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Are escorts legal in Las Vegas?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Dec 10, 2018 | 0 Comments


Yes, as long as there is no trading of sex for money. It is perfectly legal to pay people for their company, even if the escorts are scantily clad. But escort services cross the line into the Nevada crime of prostitution under NRS 201.354 if there is an understanding that the payment is for sex, not merely company.

The Vegas Strip is full of flyers and ads on the sides of buses advertising escort services, where the women are wearing next to nothing. Everyone seems to know they are probably a front for prostitution. But unless police catch people trading money for sex -- or offering to trade money for sex -- then there are no grounds for arrest. That is why police engage in undercover stings:

Police may go undercover and answer an ad for an escort service. Then if the escort talks about the price of sex, the police officer will arrest the prostitute. Likewise, police sometimes post fake ads for escort services. If a customer responds to the ad asking for the price of sex, the police will arrest the customer.

Penalties for prostitutes in Nevada

Sex workers caught engaging in sex for money -- or soliciting sex for money -- face a Nevada misdemeanor charge. The sentence is:

  • fines of up to $1,000, and/or
  • up to 6 months in jail

Jail is rare for a first-time offense. But repeat offenders are more likely to get sentenced to jail.

Penalties for customers of prostitutes in Nevada

Customers ("johns") caught in the act of solicitation or prostitution face harsher punishments for each successive conviction.

A first-time conviction is a misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail, and
  • an additional $400 fine, and
  • a civil penalty of $200 (or community service if the customer is unable to pay)

A second-time conviction is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada. The sentence is:

  • fines of up to $2,000 and/or up to 364 days in jail, and
  • an additional $800 fine, and
  • a civil penalty of $200 (or community service if the customer is unable to pay)

A third-time conviction is a gross misdemeanor. The sentence is:

  • fines of up to $2,000 and/or up to 364 days in jail, and
  • an additional $1,300 fine, and
  • a civil penalty of $200 (or community service if the customer is unable to pay)

Plea Deals for Prostitution

The D.A. may agree to dismiss a first-time offender's prostitution charge as part of a plea bargain where the defendant:

  • pays a $250 fine or does 25 hours of community service; and
  • completes an AIDS Awareness class or a prostitution education class; and
  • avoids other arrests or citations while the case is open.

If the D.A. refuses to dismiss the charge, the D.A. may agree to change it to another misdemeanor with less of a stigma. Two misdemeanors that prostitution charges are commonly lessened to are “trespass” and “disorderly conduct.”

If the D.A. does not offer a favorable plea deal, the defendant then has the option of going to trial. At trial, the D.A. has the burden to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

Southern California DUI Defense attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT).

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