prostitution charges in Texas

Fort Worth Prostitution Defense Lawyer [Free Consult] (817) 203-2220

What is Prostitution in Texas?

Prostitution is the act of offering, agreeing to, or actually engaging in sexual conduct for a fee.  Most people are surprised to find out that merely an agreement - and not a sexual act - is sufficient to prove prostitution in Texas.

Prostitution arrests are not just made on the roadside. They are commonly made through online stings, undercover operations at strip clubs, and massage parlors.

Tarrant County Prostitution Stings

With some regularity,  North Texas law enforcement agencies, including the Fort Worth  Police Department and Tarrant County Sheriff's Department, run sting operations to to make prostitution arrests. They seek to arrest both "johns" and prostitutes. While websites like Backpage and Craigslist have been shut down for human trafficking, sites like Escort Directory, ListCrawler, and Adult Search are crawling with police officers who posts ads or respond to ads.

5 Common Myths about Prostitution Charges in Texas

  • Myth 1: Police officers have to admit they are police officers.
  • Myth 2: If you used coded language, the police can't arrest you.
  • Myth 3: The prosecutor will be sympathetic to someone with no criminal history.
  • Myth 4: If you leave a "donation" that is not paying for sex.
  • Myth 5: If money is not exchanged, or if there was no sexual contact, there's no case.

1. Police officers have to admit they are police officers.
Johns often call the numbers listed in the ad and ask if the person on the other end is in law enforcement. The answer will always be "no." Officers will lie to you and this will not limit their ability to file a case against you

2. If you used coded language, the police can't arrest you.
Using phrases such as "around the world," "half and half," "full service" doesn't mean the officers won't arrest you. They simply add a sentence to their report along the lines of,  "Arrestee asked if undercover would go around the world, meaning arrestee was looking for vaginal, anal, and oral sex."

3. The prosecutor will be sympathetic to someone with no criminal history.
Prosecutors see thousands of cases a year. There were 2,392 misdemeanor prostitution cases filed in Texas in 2018. There were 2,874 felony prostitution cases filed.  Many of prostitution cases are against first-time offenders. Prosecutors do not find the argument that this is a "first-time offense" a compelling one.

4. If you leave a "donation" that is not paying for sex.
It is common, especially for online listings, for prostitutes to list services such as sensual massages or deep body rubs for a donation or for "100 roses." While you may think this side-steps the law, be aware that officers use the same tactics to arrest would-be prostitutes or johns.

5. If money is not exchanged, or if there was no sexual contact, there's no case.
The law in Texas is that a person is guilty of prostitution if there is an agreement to exchange money for sexual services. It is the agreement that is illegal - not the act of exchanging money or the sexual act.

Although prostitution is a misdemeanor for a first offense, it is a crime that carries a stigma. 

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Many people are under the impression that officers cannot lie to you, or believe there must be an actual sex act to face prostitution charges in Texas. Neither are true.

A case can be filed against you merely for discussing an exchange of money for sex – even if you never intended on acting on it. It does not matter if the offer was made in jest or if the actor never intended to carry out of the offer or verbal agreement.

What is Aggravated Prostitution?

A person who owns, invests in, finances, controls, supervises, or manages a prostitution enterprise that uses two or more prostitutes commits the offense of Aggravated Prostitution. This is a third degree felony, punishable by 2 to 10 years in prison.

What is Promotion of Prostitution (Pimping)

Pursuant to Penal Code 43.03, a person who receives money or solicits another for a third party who is a prostitute commits the Class A misdemeanor offense of Promotion of Prostitution.

Related Offense: Online Solicitation in Texas

Contact us

If you or a loved one is facing prostitution charges, call us today at (817) 203-2220 for a complimentary strategy session. Our team of former prosecutors and Board Certified Criminal Lawyers are here to help. During this call we will:

  • Discuss the facts of your case;
  • Discuss the legal issues involved, including the direct and collateral consequences of the allegation; and
  • Discuss the defenses that apply to your plan and in general terms discuss our approach to your case.

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Benson Varghese

Managing Partner at Varghese Summersett PLLC
Benson Varghese is the founder and Managing Partner of Varghese Summersett PLLC. He is a prolific writer and has authored hundreds of articles about criminal law in Texas and at the Federal level. His articles have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Above the Law, and have been selected as Top Blogs by the State Bar of Texas. He was named the Young Lawyer of the Year in 2019 by the Tarrant County Bar Association. Benson led the firm to become one of the 500 fastest growing businesses in the United States by Inc 500 Magazine in 2018. In the same year, the firm was named the Best Law Firm in Fort Worth by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The lawyers at Varghese Summersett PLLC exclusively handle criminal defense matters.
Benson Varghese