Prostitution is the act of engaging in sex acts for hire. A prostitute is a person soliciting and accepting payment for sex acts. In the U.S., in all states except Nevada prostitution is illegal. Most of the states punish the act of prostitution, soliciting prostitution, arranging for prostitution, and operating a house of prostitution. Intermediates engaged in the exploitation of prostitutes are also culpable.
The specific offense of procurement of prostitution occurs when someone induces, compels, entices, or procures another to act as a prostitute. The procurement of prostitution is a different crime from prostitution. Statutes criminalizing prostitution includes separate provisions criminalizing many other acts. Acts punishable under law include: trafficking prostitutes, accepting the earnings of a prostitute, harboring prostitutes, and patronizing prostitutes.
The prostitution statute is meant to punish those who engage in acts of prostitution and the procurement of prostitution statute is meant to punish those who entice or compel others to act as a prostitute. The procurement of prostitution statutes carry different penalties and punish different types of offenders.
The practice of prostitution is prohibited by the statutes through:
- prohibiting third parties from expanding an existing prostitute’s operation; or
- prohibiting the supply of available prostitutes.
Pandering, procuring, promoting, and pimping prostitution are the commercial endeavors of the act of prostitution. Most of the jurisdictions punish pandering, procuring, and the promoting of prostitution. A person commits an offense of procuring prostitution when s/he invites, solicits, or procures a female for meeting and having sexual intercourse with a male person. The offense of procuring includes:
- bringing a prostitute into a country for the purpose of soliciting sex;
- operating a prostitution business; and
- transporting a prostitute to the location of arrangement.
In most places where prostitution is illegal, procuring is punished. Procuring is considered illegal even when the relationship between the procurer and prostitute is formal or informal.
Pandering is one form of procuring. Pandering means to act as a go-between or liaison. The pandering person functions as a procurer. A person procuring a prostitute for another a person for the purpose of illicit sexual intercourse is guilty of pandering. Pandering includes:
- procuring a female for a place of prostitution; or
- procuring a place of prostitution where the female conducts her trade.
A patron of a prostitute is punished under a pandering statute.
In the context of prostitution, the word procures must be given a specialized meaning. The term means to obtain as a prostitute for another for a commercial motive[i].
A person promotes prostitution when he advances prostitution and received profits from prostitution. A person advances prostitution when s/he knowingly causes or aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution. Prostitution is promoted by permitting a premises to be regularly used for prostitution purposes. A person profits from prostitution when s/he accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement or understanding with any person.
The offense of promoting prostitution includes:
- procuring patrons for prostitution;
- enticing or compelling a person to become a prostitute;
- managing, supervising, controlling, or owning a prostitution business;
- conducting or directing another person to a place for the purpose of prostitution;
- receiving money or other property from a prostitute, without lawful consideration; or permitting another person to use a place for prostitution.
In order to punish a person for promoting prostitution, it must be established that the accused acted other than as a prostitute or a patron[ii].
The legislative intention in enacting the criminal statute prohibiting the promotion of prostitution is to punish persons assisting others to commit prostitution. A person acting as a prostitute would not be guilty of advancing prostitution by the mere act of prostitution[iii].
Statutes penalizing the exploitation of females by means of pandering, procuring, or pimping are constitutional. Legislation prohibiting pandering and pimping does not violate due process, equal protection, or privacy interests in prohibiting sexual acts[iv].
Moreover, the governmental interest in regulating pimping and pandering is substantial and unrelated to the suppression of free expression. The pimping and pandering laws are aimed at discouraging prostitution. The government has a substantial interest in limiting prostitution and its related commercial endeavors of pimping and pandering[v].
Most of the statutes declare that procuring and inducing a female:
- to become a prostitute;
- to live the life of a prostitute; or
- to enter or become an inmate of a house of prostitution is punishable as a crime.
A prostitute whose earnings are taken is not an accomplice. Additionally, a woman who is induced or procured to become a prostitute is not an accomplice[vi].
Generally, knowingly accepting or appropriating the earnings of a prostitute without lawful consideration is a crime. However, the proceeds of prostitution can be lawfully accepted for food, clothing, shelter, and doctor’s bills. A person can legitimately borrow money from a prostitute.
[i] Kobel v. State, 745 So. 2d 979, 982 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 4th Dist. 1999).
[ii] State v. Kerling, 2000 Minn. App. LEXIS 1195 (Minn. Ct. App. Nov. 28, 2000).
[iii] State v. Kees, 48 Wn. App. 76, 79 (Wash. Ct. App. 1987).
[iv] State v. Cashaw, 79 Wn.2d 1002 (Wash. 1971).
[v] People v. Maita, 157 Cal. App. 3d 309, 316 (Cal. App. 1st Dist. 1984).
[vi] People v. Langlois, 220 Cal. App. 2d 831, 833 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1963).