Prostitution is an illegal act that consists of an agreement to exchange sex for money in Texas. While it is illegal to work in the sex business in nearly all states, law enforcement often focuses on solicitors and promoters of sex work.
People who are caught buying sex are subject to a variety of legal consequences in Houston. Although the legal penalties for prostitution customers are not as severe as the penalties for pimping or procurement, they are still significant.
Solicitation Legal Penalties
In most jurisdictions in Texas, a first-time conviction for seeking sexual conduct for compensation is a Class B misdemeanor. In addition to fines and jail time, some judges may impose additional sentencing penalties. According to the Texas Penal Code, some penalties can include:
- Up to 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $2000
- Vehicle forfeiture
- Community service and mandatory counseling
- 180 days to two years in prison for attempting a sex transaction with a person aged 14-18 years
- Two to 10 years in prison for attempting a sex transaction with a person under 14 years of age
Sexual Relations with a Prostitute
Law enforcement often engages in sting operations to arrest people attempting to find sex for money. Undercover police officers may pose as prostitutes to catch potential customers who make a verbal agreement for paid sex.
The use of undercover officers posing as sex workers may create an opportunity for a legal defense. It is illegal for police officers to arrest someone after enticing that person into performing a crime that they would not otherwise have attempted to commit. This practice is known as “entrapment”.
It may be possible for a defense attorney to argue that the defendant was lured into seeking sexual conduct for hire by an undercover police officer. If the attorney can convince a jury that the defendant would not have attempted to pay for sex if the undercover officer had not enticed him, the jury may decide that entrapment occurred.
Reduced Penalties for Buying Sex
If this strategy is successful in Houston, the charges may be dropped or reduced to a less serious offense, such as lewd conduct or disorderly conduct.