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Penalties for Prostitution in Texas in 2024

Prostitution has been illegal in Texas since the early 1900s, but prostitution laws in the state continue to evolve and, in many cases, become stricter (notably, Texas became the first state to make a first-time solicitation of prostitution charge a felony). The penalties for prostitution offenses in Texas are all contained in Chapter 43 of the Texas Penal Code

In Texas, the penalties for prostitution vary for the alleged prostitute, the purchaser of sex (sometimes referred to as a “john”), or a person who promotes, facilitates, or recruits others to participate in the sex industry. This article lists the penalties for all prostitution-related charges in Texas. If you have been charged with any prostitution-related offense, it is critical that you speak with an experienced prostitution defense attorney as quickly as possible.

What are the penalties for prostitution for the alleged seller of sex?

Texas Penal Code 43.02 makes it an offense to offer or agree to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct. Prostitution is subject to the below punishment:

  • A first-time conviction for prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail, a fine of up to $2,000, or both. If a defendant has one or two previous convictions for prostitution, the punishment increases to a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000, or both. Prostitution is charged as a State Jail felony punishable by up to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine if the defendant has three or more prior convictions. 

What are the penalties for solicitation of prostitution for the alleged buyer?

Texas Penal Code 43.021 makes it an offense to knowingly agree to pay a fee for sexual conduct with another. As noted above, in 2021, Texas became the first state to make solicitation of prostitution a felony. The punishment for solicitation of prostitution is below:

  • A first-time solicitation of prostitution case is charged as a State Jail Felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in jail and a $10,000 fine, or a third-degree felony, punishable by 2-10 years and a $10,000 fine, if the defendant has a prior conviction. 

What are the penalties for the promotion of prostitution?

Texas Penal Code 43.03 makes it a crime to knowingly profit from the prostitution activities of others as a part of an agreement or by soliciting others to engage in sexual contact for a fee. The penalties for promotion of prostitution are as follows:

-Promotion of prostitution is a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years and a $10,000 fine. If a defendant has a prior conviction, it is charged as a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years and a $10,000 fine. Promotion of prostitution can be a felony of the first degree punishable by 5-99 years and a $10,000 fine if it involves a person under 18 years of age. 

What are the penalties for the online promotion of prostitution?

Texas Penal Code 43.031 makes it a crime to manage or operate an interactive computer service (including a website or forum), with the intent to promote the promotion of prostitution of another. This was an offense that was created in 2019 to combat websites associated with prostitution. Online promotion of prostitution is punished as follows:

  • Online promotion of prostitution is a third-degree felony punishable by 2-10 years and a $10,000 fine. If a defendant has a prior conviction, or the offense involves a person younger than 18 years of age, online promotion of prostitution is charged as a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years and a $10,000 fine. 

What are the penalties for the aggravated promotion of prostitution?

Texas Penal Code 43.04 makes it an offense to knowingly own, control or manage a prostitution “enterprise” that uses two or more prostitutes. Aggravated promotion of prostitution is punished as follows:

  • Aggravated promotion of prostitution is a first-degree felony punishable by 5-99 years and a $10,000 fine.

What are the penalties for aggravated online promotion of prostitution?

Texas Penal Code 43.041 makes it an offense to manage or operate an interactive computer service with the intent to promote the prostitution or solicitation of prostitution of five or more persons. Aggravated online promotion of prostitution is charged as follows:

  • Aggravated online promotion of prostitution is a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years and a $10,000 fine. If a defendant has a prior conviction, or the offense involves two or more persons younger than 18 years of age engaging in prostitution, aggravated online promotion of prostitution will be charged as a second-degree felony punishable by 2-20 years and a $10,000 fine.

What are the penalties for compelling prostitution?

Texas Penal Code 43.05 makes it an offense to cause another person to engage in prostitution by force or coercion or cause a child younger than 18 years old or a disabled individual to engage in prostitution by any means. Compelling prostitution is punished as follows:

  • Compelling prostitution is a first-degree punishable by 5-99 years and a $10,000 fine.

Can you get probation for a prostitution-related offense?

In Texas, most forms of prostitution are eligible for regular probation or deferred adjudication probation. Prostitution charged under Texas Penal Code 43.02 (for the alleged prostitute) and solicitation of prostitution charged under Texas Penal Code 43.021 are eligible for both deferred adjudication probation and regular probation. 

The only prostitution-related offenses that are not eligible for regular probation or deferred adjudication probation in some instances are aggravated promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution. If you are charged with either of these offenses, an experienced prostitution defense lawyer may be able to tell you if probation is an option in your case.  

Are any prostitution offenses in Texas subject to sex offender registration?

As of 2023, the only prostitution offense subject to lifetime sex offender registration under Chapter 62 of the Texas Penal Code is compelling prostitution if the victim is younger than 18 years old. Aggravated promotion of prostitution, compelling prostitution, and solicitation of prostitution involving a person under 18 years of age is subject to 10-year sex offender registration. 

What happens if a person who is not a United States citizen is charged with prostitution? 

If a person who is undocumented or is not a United States citizen is arrested for any prostitution-related offense, the same punishments apply. However, in addition to these punishments, a person could face significant immigration consequences relating to a prostitution arrest, as prostitution is considered to be a “crime of moral turpitude” under immigration law. When a person who is not a United States citizen is arrested for any prostitution-related offense, it is critical that extra care be taken to not negatively impact the person’s immigration case. 

If you are charged with any prostitution-related offense in the Houston area, it is critical that you speak with an experienced and knowledgeable prostitution defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Ceja Law Firm today for a free, confidential consultation to discuss your options.