Is prostitution legal anywhere in Colorado?

Posted by Neil Shouse | May 29, 2019 | 0 Comments

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No. Prostitution is illegal throughout Colorado.

Some people mistakenly believe that prostitution is legal in the Pikes Peak region because the police tend not to crack down on sex workers there. But police will investigate if they receive notice or a complaint that prostitution is occurring there.

What is the legal definition of prostitution in Colorado?

Prostitution (C.R.S. 18-7-201) is defined as any exchange of money (or thing of value) for any act of either:

  • sexual intercourse,
  • fellatio,
  • cunnilingus,
  • masturbation, or
  • anal intercourse

(Arguably, Colorado's definition of prostitution does not prohibit the trading of money or things of value for other sexual acts such as touching one's breasts or behind, analingus, or using an object to arouse.)

Note that merely soliciting or agreeing to prostitution is also a crime even if no sex occurs or money changes hands. Police may set up stings where an officer goes undercover as a "john" or "hooker" in order to catch people soliciting prostitution. Or police may rely on informants to help them catch suspects.

What are the defenses?

The best defense to fight a prostitution or solicitation charge turns on the specific charges and facts of the case. Common defenses are:

  • There was no offer or agreement to exchange money or things of value for sexual intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, or anal intercourse.
  • Any giving of money (or things of value) was not in exchange for any sex acts that may have occurred. In short, there was no trade.
  • The defendant was falsely accused by someone else (possibly out of anger, revenge, or a misunderstanding).
  • The defendant was falsely identified for the true culprit (misidentification).
  • The police entrapped the defendant into committing an act of prostitution or solicitation when the defendant was not predisposed to it.

What are the penalties?

The penalties for prostitution depend on the specific charge the defendant is facing. Prostitution is usually a misdemeanor, but it always becomes a felony carrying Colorado Prison time when children are involved.

What are the penalties for solicitation?

Soliciting prostitution (C.R.S. 18-7-202) is defined as either:

  • offering someone else to trade money for sex; or
  • arranging -- or offering to arrange -- a meeting for the purpose of prostitution; or
  • directing another person to a place knowing such direction is for the purpose of prostitution.

 Solicitation is a class 3 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • up to 6 months in jail, and/or
  • $50 to $750 in fines

The judge may also impose an additional fine of up to $5,000 for Colorado's prostitution enforcement fund.

What are the penalties for patronizing a prostitute?

Patronizing a prostitute under C.R.S. 18-7-205 comprises either:

  • engaging in an act of sexual intercourse or of deviate sexual conduct with a prostitute; or
  • entering or remaining in a place of prostitution with intent to engage in an act of sexual intercourse or deviate sexual conduct.

 Therefore, "Johns" are usually charged with this offense. Patronizing a prostitute is a class 1 misdemeanor, carrying:

  • 6 to 18 months in jail, and/or
  • $500 to $5,000 in fines

What are the penalties for keeping a place of prostitution?

Having or allowing a place to be used as a place for prostitution to occur (such as a brothel/whorehouse) is a class 2 misdemeanor under C.R.S. 18-7-204. The punishment is:

  • 3 to 12 months in jail, and/or
  • $250 to $1,000 in fines

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.


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