NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Nevada is the only state in the U.S. that has legalized prostitution. But it’s only allowed in a small number of licensed brothels in 10 out of Nevada’s 16 counties. Prostitution is illegal in Clark County, home to Las Vegas, and in Washoe County, home to Reno.
Here are five key things you need to know about prostitution laws in Nevada:
- A first offense for prostitution or soliciting prostitution is usually a misdemeanor in Nevada. You could face up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. Courts often give probation and require an AIDS Awareness class instead of jail time.
- Common defenses against prostitution charges are police entrapment and lack of an “overt act” of solicitation on your part.
- In counties where prostitution is allowed, sex workers must be at least 18, get regular STD testing, use condoms and have work cards. Examples of illegal prostitution include streetwalking, escort services and “happy ending” massage parlors.
- Prostitution is banned in Las Vegas and Reno. The nearest legal brothels to Vegas are in Pahrump. Nevada law now allows licensed brothels to hire male or female sex workers, but this rarely happens.
- Soliciting a child under 18 for prostitution is always a felony. For a first offense it’s 1 to 4 years in prison.
Nevada only permits licensed brothel prostitution in certain rural counties. The sex workers have to be adults, submit to STD testing, use protection and work freely. Streetwalking, escorts and massage parlors are illegal.
Prostitution and solicitation are treated as the same crime in Nevada. Prostitution is trading sex for money. Solicitation is agreeing to do it. You can be charged with solicitation even if no sex occurs.
For a first offense, fines are up to $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Some prosecutors may dismiss charges if it’s your first offense and you complete a diversion program. Otherwise, a defense lawyer may get the charge reduced.
Some common defenses against prostitution charges are entrapment, illegal searches, and lack of overtness in solicitation. Record seals and background checks are also important considerations.
Escort services are legal in Vegas if they follow all the rules. But in reality, many escorts get busted for prostitution during police stings. Prostitution can also lead to charges for lewdness, assault, theft, pandering and sex trafficking.
Nevada law allows prostitution only in these counties: Churchill, Elko, Esmeralda, Humboldt, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Nye, Storey, and White Pine. But it’s limited to certain incorporated cities and rural areas. Counties with over 700,000 people can’t allow it.
So prostitution of any kind stays illegal in Clark County (Las Vegas), Douglas County, Eureka County, Lincoln County, Pershing County, Washoe County (Reno), and Carson City.
Prostitution is usually regulated by each county. There are currently about 21 licensed brothels operating in the rural counties where it’s permitted. At one point there were 35 legal brothels in Nevada.
Brothels can’t be located on main streets or within 400 yards of schools or churches. They also can’t advertise in public theaters, on public streets, or anywhere that bans prostitution.
The nearest legal brothels to Vegas are in Pahrump, Nye County. Though state law now says brothels can hire male or female prostitutes, this rarely happens.
Prostitution and solicitation carry the same penalties in Nevada. Prostitution is having sex for money. Solicitation is agreeing to do it. You can face charges for solicitation even if no sex occurs.
Typical examples of solicitation in Vegas happen on street corners, in bars, strip clubs, massage parlors – even casinos. It also takes place online, on the phone, or in print ads and websites.
For your first offense, you may be able to get the charge dismissed by completing a diversion program. This usually involves a fine or community service plus an AIDS Awareness class. Avoiding further arrests for the duration of the case is key.
If the DA won’t dismiss the charge, the defense lawyer may get it reduced to a lesser offense like trespass or disorderly conduct. These create less issues with future jobs and background checks.
Most solicitation cases end in a plea deal without going to trial. But possible defenses are entrapment, illegal searches, and lack of overtness in agreeing to trade sex for money.
Getting convictions sealed and cleared from background checks is important. How long the waiting period is depends on whether it was a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony charge.