The Defenses for Prostitution and Solicitation in Nevada
Don’t get caught with your pants down, legally speaking
on May 28, 2019
Updated on March 23, 2022
They call it the oldest profession, and there is, indeed, historical record of prostitution going back thousands of years. The act of paying someone for sexual favors has always been morally contentious in the United States, yet the industry continues to flourish in one state.
However, the thinking that “everything goes in Vegas” isn’t strictly true. In Nevada, only counties that have a population below 700,000 are permitted to authorize the operation of brothels where prostitution can lawfully take place. The county where Las Vegas casinos are located, Clark County, has more than 700,000 people living within it, so prostitution is not permitted with Las Vegas or its immediate proximity.
Some Nevada counties also have laws that prohibit brothels. For example, Reno is located within Washoe County, which does not permit brothels or prostitution. Most popular tourist destinations in the State of Nevada do not allow legal prostitution, but there remain several counties where prostitution is allowed and where brothels operate. The existing brothels are spread across eight different counties, and an additional four have laws allowing for brothels, but none operate in the area.
In 2018, the owner of a half-dozen brothels in two Nevada counties announced that he would run for the state legislature. Dennis Hof’s announcement caused quite the political stir, especially as Nevada would face a ballot referendum in November that could outlaw prostitution statewide.
Brothels are regulated in order to provide safety and security to customers and workers:
- Workers must be 18 years of age, and tested for HIV and STDs regularly;
- Workers must use condoms; and need to have a license issued by the county and have work cards;
- Workers must be paid fair wages, and work by their own free will;
- Brothels may not be located near a school, church or military location, and must not be on a primary street of a town.
Any solicitation of prostitution outside of a brothel or bordello is illegal, and there are sting operations by police officers to catch who is seeking sex workers outside of the regulated businesses. If you are arrested and need legal advice, a Nevada criminal defense attorney can help. There are three common defenses to a solicitation or prostitution charge:
- Entrapment: Law enforcement acted in a way that forces or coerces someone into committing a crime
- Misunderstanding: It was a honest mistake, and they had no knowledge that it wasn’t a regular tavern or massage parlor
- No Evidence: There were no overt acts of solicitation or prostitution
These defenses can be fairly complicated and nuanced, and those charged can face penalties as high as $1,000 in fines and six months jail time and it's their first offense. If you are caught in the unfortunate situation of being charged with solicitation or prostitution, be certain to contact a law firm with a reputable and experienced criminal defense lawyer to resolve the issue in the best way possible.