In Arizona, prostitution is a very serious crime. How does conviction for prostitution work and what are the penalties? Let’s take a look.
What Is Prostitution?
When you hear the term “prostitution” what comes to mind? Most people would point to movies like Pretty Woman as an example of prostitution in action, but the reality is that prostitution is a serious offense punishable by jailtime.
Prostitution involves a transaction between the buyer and the seller for sexual services rendered. Typically, a customer will pay for services to a middleman or pimp, but in some cases, the solicitor is paid directly.
Essentially, there are at least two crimes involved in prostitution: illegal sale and illegal solicitation. In basic terms, Arizona deems paying a prostitute and selling sexual services as illegal under the law. That said, it’s important to note that agreeing to engage in sexual conduct is a punishable offense, so even if the act does not occur, the court can still penalize an individual for agreeing to participate.
Arizona Prostitution Laws
State laws are somewhat vague when it comes to defining what exactly about prostitution is illegal, but city ordinances are often crystal clear about what is and is not legal.
To find someone guilty of prostitution, the court must prove the following:
- There was an offer of money or something of value
- The exchange was for a sexual act, meaning sex is the intended result
- There must be a “substantial act” in fulfilling the offer
However, prostitution cases aren’t always straightforward. In many cases, men and women may be victims of sex trafficking. In these cases, individuals are often taken and sold as sex workers against their will, which means any agreement to receive payment in exchange for sexual services is done under duress. Sex trafficking cases also involve more extensive investigation.
Other cases may simply be a mistake on the part of law enforcement. A mistake of fact means the person accused of the crime asserts that an error on behalf of the police prevents their case from proceeding beyond a reasonable doubt.
Additionally, entrapment can become a factor in some prostitution cases. This means that law enforcement coerced someone into committing a crime. While entrapment certainly happens, it is extremely difficult to prove. You should never attempt to claim entrapment without the counsel of a qualified attorney.
Penalties for Prostitution
In Arizona, prostitution is considered a class one misdemeanor. This classification refers to the most serious misdemeanor someone can be accused of. Class one misdemeanors are a step away from felony-level offenses, so the punishment for a class one crime is more severe.
Generally, prostitution is punishable by:
- 15 days in jail for a first offense
- 30 days in jail for a second offense
- 60 days in jail for a third offense
It’s also important to note that anyone who commits three or more class one misdemeanor offenses could be charged with a felony, which is punishable by six months in jail.
If You Are Accused
If you’re accused of prostitution in Arizona, you’re case isn’t hopeless. Territorial Law works hard to investigate the details of your case to ascertain the nature of the crime and fight in your defense.