Arizona has strict laws pertaining to prostitution, which is the illegal act of buying or selling sexual services. The penalties for prostitution law violations are much harsher for offenders who engage in any type of prostitution with minors under the age of 18. While some may mistakenly believe that only a person selling or attempting to sell sexual services would receive charges for prostitution, it’s important to note that a person buying or attempting to buy sexual services in exchange for money or other items of value can receive a prostitution charge.
Prostitution is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Arizona. A charge of prostitution can lead to fines up to $2,500 and up to six months in jail. Convicted defendants must serve at least 15 days for a first offense and at least 30 days for a second offense. A third conviction will require at least 60 days in jail, and the offender will need to complete a court-ordered education course or treatment program. For fourth and fifth offenses, the penalties escalate dramatically and count as Class 5 felonies. The defendant must serve at least 180 days in jail for a fourth or fifth offense and fines can reach $150,000. In Arizona, the court considers any past offenses against municipal prostitution ordinances as prior convictions.
Fittingly, the penalties for prostitution involving children are much more severe than prostitution charges involving adults. Buying or attempting to buy sexual services from a minor under the age of 18 carries a sentence of 13 to 27 years in prison. If the offender caused physical harm to the child, has past convictions for child prostitution, or has a past conviction for a violent crime against a child, the sentence can extend to 37 years in prison.
In some cases, the offender who buys or attempts to buy sexual services from a minor does not know the minor is not of legal age. A person who knowingly purchases sexual services from a minor between the ages of 15 and 18 faces seven to 21 years in prison for a first offense and up to 35 years in prison for a subsequent offense. If the offender did not know the minor was not of legal age, the offender faces a Class 6 felony charge and must serve at least 90 days in jail.
There are also penalties for “taking a child” with the purpose of child prostitution. Anyone who engages in such activity faces a Class 4 felony charge and one year to three years and nine months in prison. Anyone who knowingly profits from prostitution faces felony charges under Arizona’s pimping and pandering laws.
Anyone who commits certain sex crimes must register as a sex offender in a publicly accessible database. Sex offender registration often leads to ostracism from society and may prohibit the offender from living in certain areas or engaging in certain types of employment. Anyone convicted of child prostitution will have to register as a sex offender. The only exception is if the offender unknowingly solicited a minor between the ages of 15 and 18.
In addition to prison time, fines, and sex offender registration, offenders in certain professional roles may lose their licenses and certifications to practice their professions. For example, a teacher convicted of child prostitution will lose his or her license to teach. It is also an unfortunate truth that many people of all ages face coercion into prostitution or believe they have no other alternative. There are many resources in Arizona for these individuals to seek help, escape such circumstances, and avoid criminal charges. Talk with an Arizona criminal defense attorney today to build a prostitution penalties defense.