Prostitution Law

What is Prostitution?

Prostitution is generally described as the granting of sexual acts in exchange for compensation. Prostitution has been an area of increasing concern for legal professionals in recent years, both as a result of the Internet and an increase in sex trafficking.


The rise of the Internet made prostitution much easier and more accessible to the masses. Previously, prostitution required direct interaction between the sex worker (also known as a prostitute) and the client. This often involved the prostitute standing in a public location waiting for someone to approach and solicit them for prostitution. Alternatively, a group of prostitutes might congregate in a single building to which clients would come, called a brothel. These forms of prostitution were difficult for sex workers to participate in given the relatively public nature of the solicitation and the reluctance of clients to engage them for fear of the legal consequences. Indeed, these methods were relatively easy for police to monitor and for lawmakers to outlaw.

The Internet, on the other hand, allowed anyone with an Internet connection to offer sex services almost anonymously, screen potential prostitutes/clients, and avoid law enforcement. This has led to an explosion in the sex trade that lawmakers have struggled to regulate.

Similarly, interest in pornography made available via the Internet has caused a dramatic boom in the legal sex industry. Unfortunately, this has also created a great deal of gray market pornography / prostitution in which any person with a camera may attempt to assert that they are making a film rather than soliciting someone for prostitution, or prostitutes may claim that they are merely attempting to perform as adult models or actresses.

Child Prostitution and Sex Trafficking

Unfortunately, not all prostitution has been between two consenting adults. Child prostitution has also seen increases in the last few years. Child prostitution is, as the name implies, paying for sexual encounters with a person who is under the age of consent. Many of these children are either troubled teens or are being forced to participate in the sex acts as a form of modern slavery.

A similar and related issue has been the trafficking of humans to act as sex workers. These individuals are often lured to another country with offers of employment in legitimate industries, then held against their will and forced into the sex industry as slaves. Often these individuals may be smuggled across borders, as well, further affecting their ability to leave the industry with no passports, a lack of understanding of the local laws and customs, etc.

Legalization and Dangers Caused by Illegal Prostitution

To date, Nevada is the only state that allow any legalized prostitution. But, there are a number of groups lobbying for legalization of prostitution. Many of these groups point out that the act of sex exchanged for something of value is essentially a victimless crime, but because it is illegal, prostitutes are often exposed to a variety of other crimes which they cannot report to law enforcement for fear of arrest. Examples include rape, battery, muggings, and murder.

More Information

For more information about prostitution, please review the materials found below or contact an attorney in your area that has experience with this area of law. For a list of local attorneys, please visit our Law Firms page and search by your location.


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