Escort services and prostitution in Texas are two controversial subjects that inspire a massive amount of debate, as well as encourage myth and misinformation. Are escorts legal in Texas? And what is the difference between an escort and a prostitute, anyway?

The criminal defense lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm are here to discuss all things regarding escorts and prostitution, including the distinctions between escorting and prostitution, the specific laws governing the solicitation of prostitution in Texas, and the potential repercussions for involvement in prostitution activities. 

If you or a loved one has been arrested and charged with a prostitution charge in Texas, you’ll need the best defense attorney Houston has to offer to defend your freedom. Law enforcement arrests quickly and prosecutors move swiftly when dealing with prostitution in Texas, so call Thiessen Law Firm today at (713) 864-9000 before it’s too late. 

What is the difference between escorts vs. prostitutes?

There is a lot of confusion surrounding the differences between escorts and prostitutes, and for good reason. They aren’t really the same thing, but they can be depending on the circumstances.

Escorts typically provide companionship and may accompany clients to events, dinners, or social gatherings. Escort services primarily revolve around, or at least prominently feature, providing company, conversation, and sometimes, emotional support. The important thing is that escorts do not explicitly offer sexual services in exchange for money; instead, they operate within the boundaries of paid companionship.

Prostitutes, on the other hand, engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money. Unlike escorts, their services explicitly feature the exchange of money for sex acts, and any companionship or conversation would be considered incidental. 

Escort services are technically not illegal in Texas, and as long as escorts do not offer to perform sex acts in exchange for money, they technically are not violating Texas law. Seems simple right? Not really. 

A lot of prostitution in Texas happens through enterprises that claim to be perfectly legal escort services, ostensibly offering companionship, conversation, and not much else. This is an imperfect system for both those providing and purchasing these services because sting operations often take the form of ostensibly legal escort services (or those looking to patronize them).

Solicitation of prostitution in Texas is illegal. Solicitation is defined as the act of seeking or offering sexual services in exchange for money. Although other prostitution charges come with much heavier punishments, solicitation charges are the easiest to get and are therefore the most common prostitution charge in Texas. 

Did you know you don’t even have to exchange money to be charged with solicitation in Texas? It’s true. You can be guilty of solicitation for even indicating what could be construed as an offer or an agreement to pay for sex acts. 

This is extreme of its own merit but becomes even more complicated when you consider that Johns are often busted in sting operations, which means an undercover cop can ask you a question. All you have to do is nod your head to be charged with a felony. 

What are the Texas prostitution laws?

The prostitution laws in Texas are contained in Texas Penal Code § 43, which covers crimes of public indecency. According to Texas § 43, there are a few types of prostitution offenses, which are as follows: 

  • Prostitution occurs when you knowingly offer or agree to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct.
  • Solicitation of prostitution occurs when you knowingly offer or agree to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another.
  • Promotion of prostitution occurs when you receive money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution; or solicit another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation.
  • Compelling of prostitution occurs when you cause another by force, threat, coercion, or fraud to commit prostitution.

These crimes are not created equal. While punishments for prostitution and solicitation can be relatively severe, they are nothing compared to the punishment you will incur for maintaining a place for prostitution, compelling or coercing individuals into prostitution, or soliciting prostitution from minors. 

We discussed the sometimes blurry line between escorting and prostitution, which exists primarily because escorting is technically legal all over the United States, while prostitution is not. 

Prostitution is illegal in every state in the U.S. but Nevada, where it is only legal in some places. To be more specific, 10 of Nevada’s 17 counties have legalized prostitution, but not every municipality within these counties allows it. 

In total, there are 19 brothels legally operating in Nevada. So if you don’t live in Nevada, you’re planning on soliciting, and you don’t want to worry about getting stung, you’re out of luck. 

Punishments for prostitution in Texas

Those convicted of prostitution-related offenses in Texas face severe legal consequences, including fines, incarceration, and lasting repercussions on their personal and professional lives. The penalties vary depending on factors such as the nature of the offense, prior criminal history, and aggravating circumstances.

OffenseChargeMaximum fineJail time
ProstitutionClass B misdemeanor$2,0003 – 180 days
Prostitution second offenseClass A misdemeanor$4,000Up to 1 year
Soliciting prostitution first offenseState jail felony$10,000180 days – 2 years
Soliciting prostitution second offenseThird-degree felony$10,0002 – 10 years
Soliciting prostitution from someone under the age of 18Second-degree felony$10,0002 – 20 years
Promotion of prostitutionThird-degree felony$10,0002 – 10 years
Compelling of prostitution First-degree felony$10,0005 – 99 years

Outside of hefty fines and significant jail time, convictions for prostitution offenses can be particularly damaging to your family, career, and reputation. Whether your significant other leaves because of trust issues or an exciting new opportunity disappears after they run a background check in Texas, you need to hire the best attorney you possibly can to make sure that charges for prostitution in Texas don’t ruin your life. 

Continue reading: How long do felonies stay on your record in Texas?

Defenses to a solicitation of prostitution charge

While facing a solicitation charge in Texas can be scary, you do have the right to an attorney who can build a robust defense — and more importantly, a charge is not a conviction. While each case is unique and a successful defense will be born of the circumstances of your individual case, there are some common defenses to solicitation of prostitution charges, including: 

  1. Lack of awareness that the other party was a prostitute
  2. Lack of evidence of specific action
  3. Illegally obtained evidence or otherwise violated rights 
  4. You agreed to the proposal because of entrapment or duress

What you can be sure of is that your chances of getting your solicitation charge dropped or dismissed go up exponentially when you hire a skilled trial lawyer, like Mark Thiessen, who can protect your rights in a court of law. 

Read more about reasonable suspicion in Texas.

Call Thiessen Law Firm to defend against your prostitution charge today

So, are escorts legal in Texas? While escort services themselves may not inherently violate the Texas prostitution laws, the lines that divide escort services and prostitution are blurry at best, and engaging in prostitution activities in Texas poses significant legal risks. 

If you have been arrested under suspicion of a prostitution charge — even if you believed to be interacting with a perfectly legal escort service — you need a skilled criminal attorney in your corner if you want to protect your life. 

At Thiessen Law Firm, we have made a name for ourselves by taking complex criminal cases to court and winning them. Call us today at (713) 864-9000 or contact us online to take the first step in defending your future. 

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Mark Thiessen is an aggressive trial lawyer best known for his devotion to justice for his clients and high rank as a DWI Super Lawyer in Texas.