Nevada Revised Statute § 201.354 states that “it is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or solicitation therefor, except in a licensed house of prostitution.” Solicitation means offering or agreeing to exchange money for sexual acts.
Solicitation is typically a misdemeanor offense in Nevada, carrying up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. But it is often possible to get the charge completely dismissed and sealed from your criminal record.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is solicitation of prostitution in Nevada?
- 2. What are the penalties for solicitation?
- 3. How do I fight NRS 201.354 charges?
- 4. Can solicitation charges be dismissed?
- 5. How soon can the record be sealed?
- 6. Isn’t prostitution legal in Nevada?
- 7. Related offenses
1. What is solicitation of prostitution in Nevada?
Solicitation of prostitution is offering – or agreeing – to trade sexual favors for money or a thing of value.
Solicitation can happen in person or over the phone or internet, such as on Craigslist. And the sexual favors can be anything from sexual intercourse to groping or fondling.
In Nevada, you can be convicted of solicitation even if no sex acts occur and no money is paid. Simply making the offer – or agreeing to an offer – to engage in prostitution is a crime.1
The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD) routinely sends out undercover officers to pose as “hookers” or “johns.” They go to bars or rest stops in an attempt to catch unsuspecting sex workers and customers in the act of solicitation.2
See our related articles, Examples of soliciting a prostitute and Are prostitution and solicitation the same thing in Nevada?
2. What are the penalties for solicitation?
Solicitation of prostitution by a sex worker is a misdemeanor carrying up to six months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines.
Meanwhile, the penalties for solicitation of prostitution by a customer (“john”) increase which each subsequent offense:
|Solicitation offense by a “john”||Nevada penalties|
|First conviction||Misdemeanor |
|Second conviction||Gross misdemeanor |
|Third or later conviction||Gross misdemeanor |
But soliciting a minor under 18 years of age for prostitution is always a felony. The sentence increases with each offense, and the judge may not grant probation or a suspended sentence instead of prison:
|Soliciting a child||Nevada penalties|
|First conviction||Category D felony: |
|Second conviction||Category C felony: |
|Third or later conviction||Category B felony: |
Note that solicitation of prostitution carries the same penalties as the act of prostitution itself under Nevada law.3
3. How do I fight NRS 201.354 charges?
The most common defense to solicitation charges in Nevada is that you did not knowingly offer – or agree – to trade sexual acts for money. Sex workers often talk in coded language, and perhaps you genuinely misconstrued what was being discussed. Unless there was an overt act of solicitation, the charge should be dismissed.4
Another potential defense is that the police entrapped you during a solicitation sting operation. If the undercover police officer pressured you into solicitation when you were not predisposed to it – and you would not have done it but for the pressure – then the police committed entrapment.5
And depending on the case, you can argue that any money that traded hands was unconnected to any intended sexual conduct. Perhaps it was just a loan or was payment for some other good or service.
4. Can solicitation charges be dismissed?
Las Vegas prosecutors are often willing to dismiss first-time solicitation of prostitution charges in exchange for this plea bargain:
- paying a fine (or doing community service), and
- attending an AIDS Awareness class (“john school”).
Then once you complete the terms, the court would dismiss the case with no jail time.
In some cases, prosecutors who are unwilling to dismiss the matter may agree to change the charge to something that carries less of a stigma. Examples include trespassing (NRS 207.200) or disorderly conduct.
5. How soon can the criminal record be sealed?
Misdemeanor solicitation convictions are sealable one year after the case ends. Gross misdemeanor solicitation convictions are sealable two years after the case ends. And felony solicitation convictions are sealable five years after the case ends.
But if the case gets dismissed, you can petition for a record seal right away.6 Learn more about record sealing in the state of Nevada.
6. Isn’t prostitution legal in Nevada?
Prostitution – and the solicitation of prostitution – are largely illegal under Nevada state law. The only legal prostitution occurs in a licensed house of prostitution (licensed brothel), and they exist in only a few rural Nevada counties.
All forms of prostitution (including brothels) remain completely illegal in most of the state, including Las Vegas, North Las Vegas, Henderson, Reno, and Carson City.7
Escort services are technically not a violation of Nevada solicitation laws. But enforcement officers know that they are often fronts for illegal prostitution. Las Vegas police often pose as “johns” online in an attempt to catch prostitutes in the act of solicitation.
See our related article, Are there legal brothels in Las Vegas?
7. Related offenses
Pimping (NRS 201.320) is intentionally receiving money or proceeds from prostitution. Pimping is a felony, and the extent of the penalties depends on whether the pimp used force or violence.
Pandering (NRS 201.300(1)) is when someone entices or induces an adult to engage in prostitution. It is a category C felony carrying one to five years in prison. But if the pandering involves violence or a child victim, then the D.A. may instead bring sex trafficking (NRS 201.300(2)) charges.
7.3. Open and gross lewdness
Open and gross lewdness (NRS 201.210) is engaging in sex acts in public – or where the public can see in. It is usually a gross misdemeanor carrying up to 364 days in jail and/or $2,000. But it also carries the requirement to register as a sex offender (NRS 179D).
- Nevada Revised Statute 201.354 subsection 1.
- See also Rio Lacanlale, Firefighter arrested during human trafficking sting at Las Vegas casino, police say, Reno Gazette-Journal (February 15, 2022).
- NRS 201.354.
- Dinitz v. Christensen, (1978) 94 Nev. 230, 234, 577 P.2d 873, 875.
- Foster v. State, (2000) 116 Nev. 1088, 1092-1093, 13 P.3d 61, 64.
- NRS 179.245. NRS 179.255.
- NRS 201.354. NRS 244.345. NAC 441A.800.