Sex Crimes

Prostitution in Arizona

There are numerous laws prohibiting prostitution in Arizona, as well as other conduct related to prostitution in Arizona.  In fact, the same conduct is often punishable under multiple laws.  These overlapping laws sometimes provide different penalties for substantially similar conduct.  It can be confusing, but here’s an outline of some of Arizona’s laws regarding prostitution and related offenses.

Prostitution and Solicitation

Prostitution and solicitation are illegal throughout most of the country, including Arizona. Each state has its own definitions and punishments for the offense. In Arizona, there are several laws regarding prostitution related crimes. The two main statutes that define prostitution are A.R.S. §§ 13-3211 and 13-3214.

Individual municipalities often have additional regulations regarding prostitution. Tucson City Code § 11-28, for example, prohibits prostitution and aiding in any act of prostitution. It also prohibits the solicitation of prostitution.

The basic definition of prostitution involves the engagement in and agreement to perform sexually for money or other form of payment or reward. This can be under a person’s own volition or under the arrangement of a third party.

Solicitation is typically defined by regulations created by individual cities, like Tucson City Code § 11-28, which are usually similar. Basically, it is illegal to ask someone, or try to get someone to engage in an act of prostitution.

Under A.R.S. § 3208, anyone who is knowingly employed at a house of prostitution can be charged with a class 1 misdemeanor and anyone who operates or maintains a house of prostitution can be charged with a class 5 felony. Of course, it doesn’t have to be a “house”; any prostitution enterprise is sufficient for these charges. 

Pimping and Pandering

 What most people call pimping actually encompasses two separate offenses in Arizona: Pandering and Receiving Earnings of a Prostitute. Both of these crimes are class 5 felonies. Pandering (A.R.S. § 13-3209) occurs when someone is in charge of a prostitute, places another person in a house of prostitution, or compels, induces, or even encourages someone to lead a life of prostitution.

Receiving Earnings of a Prostitute is illegal in Arizona pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3204. If you have knowingly accepted money or other valuables from an individual who has earned these items through prostitution, you can be charged with this crime. It does not necessarily even matter if you played a role in arranging any acts of prostitution.

Finally, if you have caused your spouse to become a prostitute or perform sexually for favors, rewards, or other valuables, you have committed a felony similar to that of pimping. This is also a class 5 felony under A.R.S. § 13-3207.

Enticement and Procurement

Enticement is defined by A.R.S. § 13-3201. Enticing (inviting, convincing…) an individual to enter into a house of prostitution or brothel, or anywhere else, for purposes of prostitution is a class 6 felony. There’s a very fine line between Enticement and Pandering. In fact, there’s really no practical difference between the two in Arizona except for the potential punishment.

Procurement is defined by A.R.S. § 13-3203. Again, this law is very similar to Pandering and Receiving Earnings of a Prostitute: it is illegal to “knowingly receive money or other valuable things, for, or on account of, procuring or placing in a house of prostitution, or elsewhere, any person for the purpose of prostitution.”

There is also another, different kind of procurement offense that does not necessarily require an exchange of money: Procurement by False Pretenses. This occurs when you procure someone by false pretenses or fraudulent means to have an “illicit carnal relation” with another person. This is also a class 5 felony pursuant to A.R.S. § 13-3202.

Sentencing after conviction

Most prostitution charges under § 13-3214 are class one misdemeanors that carry maximum penalties of 180 days in jail, a $2500.00 fine, and up to 3 years of probation. Even for a first time offenders, the statute calls for a minimum jail sentence of fifteen days. The minimum penalties go up second and third offenses (30 days and 60 days respectively) and a fourth offense can be charged as a Class 5 Felony with a maximum sentence of 2.5 years in prison and a minimum sentence of 180 days in jail! For many, these penalties add insult to the injury already caused by such a conviction in other areas of their life, including their reputation.


These cases can be defended a number of ways depending on the facts. Because adults are prone to have consensual sexual relationships, it may be difficult to distinguish between a normal sexual encounter and an act of prostitution. Normally, a prosecutor would have to prove that money changed hands and that the money was actually payment for a sexual act. Entrapment is also a common defense, particularly when charges result from a sting operation. Entrapment occurs when law enforcement coerces a person into doing something that they would not normally do. It is important to note that prostitution-related charges are among the few misdemeanor crimes for which you are entitled to trial by jury because they are considered crimes of “moral turpitude”. Even if there is not a good defense, your attorney may be able to negotiate a favorable plea agreement. Due to the nature of these charges, it is a good idea to consult an experienced lawyer who can determine whether you have a legitimate defense or whether there are legal problems with the State’s case, and can negotiate with the State on your behalf.

If you are facing any prostitution-related charge in Arizona, we can help. Call for a free, confidential case assessment at 520.314.4125 or contact us online.

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