Prostitution is rare in the United States today, with only one state still allowing prostitution with restrictions. Nevada is the only state in the Union where prostitution is legal, although it can only take place in licensed brothels. It is legal in 10 of Nevada’s 16 counties, excluding Clark County and Washoe County, where Las Vegas and Reno meet. Currently, there are about 21 brothels in operation in every county in Nevada.
What is prostitution in Nevada?
Nevada law NRS 201.354 defines prostitution as the performance of any sexual conduct for remuneration. Sexual conduct includes intercourse, oral sex, or anal sex. Groping or touching another person’s private parts to arouse them is considered prostitution, even if it is over the clothes. Outside of licensed brothels and in counties where prostitution and solicitation are illegal, this is generally a misdemeanor charge. These crimes often carry higher charges, such as registration as a sex offender, if the individual is under 18 years of age. Solicitation of prostitution, when someone offers or accepts prostitution, is a crime punishable in the same way as prostitution. Many common areas where solicitation of prostitution is seen are bars, lounges, clubs, massage parlors, and even on the street.
Counties with legal and illegal prostitution in Nevada
Nevada is a very unique state, in that prostitution is legal in cities with a population of less than 700,000. Prostitution in licensed brothels is only legal in the following counties:
- Churchill County
- Elko County
- Emerald County
- humboldt county
- Lander County
- Lyons County
- mineral county
- Nye County
- Storey County
- White Pine County
All forms of prostitution, including brothels, are illegal in the following counties and our capital:
- Clark County
- Carson City
- douglas county
- eureka county
- lincoln county
- Pershing County
- Washoe County
What are the penalties for prostitution?
The penalties for prostitution are multiple, since prostitution can fall into different categories. If the defendant is the alleged prostitute, the offense would be a misdemeanor and the penalties would be fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail, which is rare. If the defendant is the alleged client, the first offense would be a misdemeanor, with fines of up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Other charges include an additional $400 fine and a $200 civil penalty. A second offense would be considered a serious misdemeanor with fines of up to $2,000 and/or one year in jail.
Additional charges include an $800 fine and a $200 civil penalty fee. Receiving a third offense is also considered a serious misdemeanor, with the same charges as the second offense plus an additional $1,300 fine. Defendants may participate in community service in lieu of paying the $200 civil penalty. If the defendant is an alleged prostitute and is aware that he has HIV, it would be considered a Category B felony with 2-10 years in Nevada State Prison and/or a $10,000 fine. If the defendant is an alleged client soliciting a person under the age of 18, the first offense would be considered a category E felony, which carries probation and a suspended sentence. A second offense would be a category D felony, with 1 to 4 years in prison and possibly up to a $5,000 fine.
Can the defendant fight the charges?
There are three common ways a defendant can fight the charges:
An illegal practice in which a law enforcement officer induces a person to commit a crime, such as solicitation of prostitution
illegal police search
Police could overreach and illegally obtain evidence, outside of the Fourth Amendment
lack of overload
Nevada law requires the solicitation to be open for it to be criminal.
Nevada is very specific in its laws regarding prostitution and brothels, since it is a way for prostitutes to make a living, but while being safe. If you have been charged with a prostitution-related crime, consult a reputable attorney to ensure that your legal rights are protected. Prostitution offenses can become a sex offender charge, which carries a social stigma that you definitely don’t want to have. Our experienced attorneys at The Defenders will educate you on prostitution laws in Nevada.