NRS § 201.320 is the Nevada law that classifies pimping as a felony offense. To put it simply, pimping is when you knowingly receive money or other gains from the proceeds of a prostitute. The law treats pimping more harshly than prostitution itself, which is generally charged as a misdemeanor.
It’s important to note that pimping is distinct from pandering (NRS 201.300(1)), which involves enticing someone to become a prostitute.
Prostitution, pimping, and pandering are illegal in Clark County (which includes Las Vegas), Washoe County (which includes Reno), and Carson City, except in licensed brothels. Online activities related to prostitution, including advertising services on websites such as Backpage, are also illegal in these areas.
The language of NRS 201.320 reads:
Living from earnings of prostitute; penalty.
1. A person who knowingly accepts, receives, levies or appropriates any money or other valuable thing, without consideration, from the proceeds of any prostitute, is guilty of living from the earnings of a prostitute and shall be punished:
(a) Where physical force or the immediate threat of physical force is used, for a category C felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
(b) Where no physical force or immediate threat of physical force is used, for a category D felony as provided in NRS 193.130.
2. Any such acceptance, receipt, levy or appropriation of money or valuable thing upon any proceedings or trial for violation of this section is presumptive evidence of lack of consideration.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the legal definition of pimping in Nevada?
- 2. Is pimping the same as pandering?
- 3. What are the penalties under NRS 201.320?
- 4. What are ways to fight the case?
- 5. Is pimping a deportable offense?
- 6. Can I seal the criminal record?
1. What is the legal definition of pimping in Nevada?
The Nevada crime of pimping under NRS 201.320 is knowingly accepting or taking money – or other things of value – that are the proceeds of prostitution.
The classic example of a pimp is a man who manages a team of sex workers. They pay the pimp whatever they receive from the customers. And the pimp may give a small cut of the money back to the sex workers.
In many cases, pimps use violence – or the threats of violence – to control their sex workers and scare them into staying with them. But pimping is still a crime even if the sex workers fully consent the arrangement, and no violence is involved.1
The only people who may lawfully accept the proceeds of prostitution are licensed brothel owners and staff acting in accordance with state and local law. The state of Nevada has only a few legal brothels and legal prostitutes, and they are all located in rural counties. Brothels are illegal throughout Clark County (which includes Las Vegas), Washoe County (which includes Reno), Carson City, and several other Nevada counties.
Outside of a licensed brothel (“house of prostitution”), every act of prostitution is illegal throughout Nevada. This includes street prostitution and soliciting sexual services for money online.2
2. Is pimping the same as pandering?
No, they are separate charges under Nevada state law. Pimping is receiving the proceeds from a prostitute. Pandering is inducing or helping people to be prostitutes in the first place whether they receive money or not. Pimps often begin as panderers.3
Note that people who pander children or who pander adults through violence (or threats of violence) will face more serious charges for sex trafficking (NRS 201.300(2)).4
3. What are the penalties under NRS 201.320?
Pimping is a felony carrying time in Nevada State Prison and possible fines. The punishment for living off the earnings of a prostitute turn on whether the alleged pimp used physical force or the immediate threat of physical force.
|Nevada pimping offense||Sentence|
|With no violence or immediate threats of violence||Category D felony:
|With violence or immediate threats of violence||Category C felony:
If the prostitute is a child (under 18), then the court may impose an additional $500,000 fine.5
The court may impose an additional half-million-dollar fine if the defendant was involved a conspiracy (NRS 199.480) to commit either:
- Sex trafficking (NRS 201.300(2)),
- Facilitating sex trafficking (NRS 201.301),
- Living from earnings of prostitution (NRS 201.301), or
- Advancing prostitution (NRS 201.395)6
Finally, any assets that pimps derived from prostitution are subject to forfeiture.7
Note that pimping penalties are harsher than the penalties for being a hooker or a john. Illegal prostitution is usually just a misdemeanor.8
4. What are ways to fight the case?
There are many possible defense arguments to pimping charges. Four include:
- The defendant did not act knowingly. Perhaps there was a genuine misunderstanding where a sex worker wrongly believed the defendant was his/her pimp. Or perhaps the defendant truly thought the payment came from a legitimate business and not prostitution. If the defense attorney can demonstrate that the defendant did not knowingly take proceeds of prostitution, the NRS 201.320 charge should not stand.
- The money did not come from prostitution. It is not uncommon for sex workers to have lawful day jobs or side gigs, and the money they receive for this work is not “proceeds from prostitution.” Unless the D.A. can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the money in a pimping case came from prostitution, the case should be dropped.
- The defendant was falsely accused. Perhaps someone is mad at the defendant and wants to get him/her in trouble by levying false pimping accusations. In these cases, the defense attorney would try to impeach the accuser’s credibility to show that the accuser had a motive to lie.
- The police committed an unlawful search. If law enforcement conducted an illegal search that violated the Fourth Amendment, the defense attorney can ask the court to suppress (disregard) any evidence found from this illegal search. If the court agrees, this could leave the D.A. with too weak a case to prosecute.
It is not a defense that the sex worker willingly gave his/her earnings to the defendant.
Typical evidence in these cases include eyewitness testimony, surveillance video, recordings from undercover police, and the cash (or other things of value) that the alleged sex worker supposedly gave the defendant.9
5. Is pimping a deportable offense?
Probably. Federal law makes it an aggravated felony – which is deportable – for a person to own, control, manage, or supervise a prostitution business. This arguably encompasses pimping.10
People charged with living off a prostitute’s earnings should seek experienced legal counsel right away. It may be possible to persuade the D.A. to dismiss or reduce the charge to a non-deportable crime.
6. Can I seal the criminal record?
NRS 201.320 convictions may be sealed 5 years after the case closes. But if the charge gets dismissed – meaning that there is no conviction – then the defendant may pursue a record seal immediately.11
See our related article on sex crimes.
In California? See our article on Penal Code 266h PC.
In Colorado? See our article on CRS 18-7-206.
- Nevada Revised Statute 201.320 – Living from earnings of prostitute; penalty.
- NRS 244.345; Barbara Brents & Kathryn Hausbeck, State-Sanctioned Sex: Negotiating Formal and Informal Regulatory Practices in Nevada Brothels, 44 Soc. Persp. 307, 324 (2001); NAC 441A.800. Nevada is the only state in the United States with some legalization of prostitution, and it is limited to less-populated counties. Brothel workers are highly regulated. There is no decriminalization.
- NRS 201.300(1).
- NRS 201.300(2).
- NRS 201.320; NRS 201.352; NRS 201.325; Note that Nevada also has a vagrancy statute (NRS 207.030) that makes it a misdemeanor to “be a … panderer.” A first offense carries up to 6 months in jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. A second offense in three years carries at least $250 and 30 days in jail. And a third or subsequent offense in three years carries at least $250 in fines and 6 months in jail.
- NRS 201.351.
- NRS 201.354.
- See, for example, Sheriff, Clark County v. Horner, 96 Nev. 312, 608 P.2d 1106 (1980).
- 8 U.S. Code § 1101(a)(43)(K).
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.