The Defenses for Prostitution and Solicitation in Nevada

Legal in some areas of Nevada, prostitution is highly regulated

By Benjy Schirm, J.D. | Reviewed by Canaan Suitt, J.D. | Last updated on April 20, 2023

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Though the act of paying someone for sexual favors and sexual acts is controversial in the United States, the industry continues to flourish in Nevada.

However, the thinking that “everything goes in Las Vegas” isn’t strictly true. In Nevada, only counties that have a population below 700,000 are permitted to authorize the operation of licensed brothels and licensed house of prostitution, where prostitution can lawfully take place without facing solicitation charges.

The county where Las Vegas casinos are located, Clark County, has more than 700,000 people living within it, so under Nevada law prostitution is not permitted in Las Vegas or its immediate proximity.

Nevada Counties that Prohibit Brothels

Some Nevada counties also have laws that prohibit brothels. For example, Reno is located within Washoe County, which does not permit brothels nor make prostitution legal.


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.

Regulation of Brothels in Nevada

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.

Solicitation of Prostitution Outside Brothels is Illegal in Nevada

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.

Defenses to Solicitation and Prostitution Charges

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:

  1. Entrapment: Law enforcement acted in a way that forces or coerces someone into committing a crime
  2. Misunderstanding: It was a honest mistake, and they had no knowledge that it wasn’t a regular tavern or massage parlor
  3. 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, prostitution, or sex crimes be certain to contact a law firm with a reputable and experienced criminal defense lawyer a to resolve the issue in the best way possible. 

For more information on this area of law, see our overviews of criminal defense and sex offenses.

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