Prostitution and Patronizing a Prostitute Crimes in Pennsylvania

Prostitution in Pennsylvania carries both criminal penalties for the act of participating in sex for hire, as well as very serious civil consequences. The general rules regarding prostitution and related offenses are contained in the Crimes Code in Section 5902.

Victimless Crime

Black’s Law Dictionary defines a victimless crime as one, “that is considered to have no direct victim, usually because only consenting adults are involved.” Generally, the crime of prostitution involves two separate acts of criminal conduct: an adult offering sex for hire and a second adult offering to pay for sex. Obviously, in this case, both adults have chosen to enter into an agreement for a certain price however, even though consenting adults may agree, the Crime Code indicates prostitution and patronizing a prostitute is still a crime. The law specifically indicates that, “a person is guilty of prostitution if he or she (1) is an inmate of a house of prostitution or otherwise engages in sexual activity as a business; or (2) loiters in or within view of any public place for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.” In addition, a person is guilty of patronizing prostitutes if, “that person hires a prostitute or any other person to engage in sexual activity with him or her or with that person enters or remains in a house of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.”

The criminal penalty for committing the crime of prostitution and patronizing a prostitute can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the particular circumstances. This means that one can be incarcerated for up to seven years depending on the specific circumstances of the prostitution or patronizing prostitute charge. A person that patronizes a prostitute commits a misdemeanor for the first and second offense and a felony for the third offense or more offense. In addition, according to the Rules, a person who commits a second prostitution offense shall have his or her name published in a newspaper of general circulation with the offense and the penalty.

Consequences

Aside from the potential probation or period of incarceration, consequences for a criminal conviction include:

  • Publication of your name in a local newspaper with a list of the crime of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute;
  • Probation or jail time of up to seven years in a state correctional institute;
  • A criminal record;
  • Limitation on future employment including employment with schools, nursing, day care officer, or government positions;
  • Consideration for any sexual violent predator analysis and potential lifetime registration on the Megan’s Law list as a result;
  • The need for classes, including counseling services, sexually violent predator classes, or other sex crime related classes;
  • Fines and costs of up to $15,000.00.

Defense of Prostitution and Patronizing a Prostitute

In defending against the prostitution and patronizing a prostitute offense, it is important to note the specific circumstances surrounding the allegation of prostitution.  Factors including was money exchanged, the terms of the exchange, whether any sex act was promised, and how the promise was made and whether an attempt to perform the sex act occurred.  The defense initially resides with the circumstances and to what extent performance of a sex act occurred or was promised.  For an appropriate criminal defense, one must consider all affirmative defenses including entrapment and whether the person who has been charged with the offense was in some way coerced to commit a crime which he or she would not have otherwise committed but for law enforcement interaction.  Defense of prostitution and patronizing a prostitute matters requires an attorney who has an understanding of law enforcement strategies in prosecution of prostitution and patronizing prostitute offenses.  Law enforcement will generally use:

  • Undercover operations
  • Video and audio tapes and surveillance
  • Online investigation tactics including reviewing Backpage, Craigslist, Eccie, Big Doggie, Best GFE, Date Check, The Erotic Review, and other “escort” websites
  • The use CI, or confidential informant, information to gather facts for prosecution
  • The tactic of offering other criminal defendants a deal in order to testify or gather information for additional criminal prosecution

Whether you have been accused or charged with offering a sex act for money, or with patronizing a prostitute, you need to speak with an attorney who has the knowledge and skill in law enforcement tactics in order to ensure the proper criminal defense.

Other Consequences of a Charge of Prostitution or Patronizing Prostitutes

Aside from the collateral consequences described above, a conviction of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute could have an effect on any future custody actions as the new custody law specifically takes into consideration crimes under the prostitution section.  This means that, years after the crime of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute occurred, one could potentially lose custodial rights, or be prevented from obtaining custodial rights of a child simply for having been convicted of this crime which is unrelated to the custody matter.  For further review of the new custody rules, see our section on this site related to the new custody guidelines.

If you are being charged with a crime involving prostitution, or patronizing a prostitute, it is imperative that you contact an attorney right away.  The choices you make at a preliminary hearing can have consequences, not only on the criminal case itself, but on aspects of your life which you may not have considered.  At Foreman & Caraciolo, P.C. we believe that in properly defending our clients we must challenge every aspect of a case, including witness statements, alleged surveillance, and the factual circumstances surrounding the arrest.  It is our policy to always look into affirmative defenses and to assert each and every applicable defense.  Do not fight this battle alone.  Come speak to one of our attorneys at a free consultation in order to further understand your rights and to address your specific case immediately.  We can help alleviate the embarrassment of a crime of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute as well as the stigma and long term consequences of any criminal conviction.  Contact us now for a free consultation.

Section 5902.
Prostitution and Related Offenses

“(a) Prostitution – A person is guilty of prostitution if he or she:
(1) is an inmate of a house of prostitution or otherwise engages in sexual activity as a business; or
(2) loiters in or within view of any public place for the purpose of being hired to engage in sexual activity.
(a.1) Grading of offenses under subsection (a) – An offense under subsection (a) constitutes a:
(1) Misdemeanor of the third degree when the offense is a first or second offense.
(2) Misdemeanor of the second degree when the offense is a third offense.
(3) Misdemeanor of the first degree when the offense is a fourth or subsequent offense.
(4) Felony of the third degree if the person who committed the offense knew that he or she was human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive or manifesting acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
(b) Promoting prostitution – A person who knowingly promotes prostitution of another commits a misdemeanor or felony as provided in subsection (c) of this section. The following acts shall, without limitation of the foregoing, constitute promoting prostitution:
(1) owning, controlling, managing, supervising or otherwise keeping, alone or in association with others, a house of prostitution or a prostitution business;
(2) procuring an inmate for a house of prostitution or a place in a house of prostitution for one who would be an inmate;
(3) encouraging, inducing, or otherwise intentionally causing another to become or remain a prostitute;
(4) soliciting a person to patronize a prostitute;
(5) procuring a prostitute for a patron;
(6) transporting a person into or within this Commonwealth with intent to promote the engaging in prostitution by that person, or procuring or paying for transportation with that intent;
(7) leasing or otherwise permitting a place controlled by the actor, alone or in association with others, to be regularly used for prostitution or the promotion of prostitution, or failure to make reasonable effort to abate such use by ejecting the tenant, notifying law enforcement authorities, or other legally available means; or
(8) soliciting, receiving, or agreeing to receive any benefit for doing or agreeing to do anything forbidden by this subsection.
(c) Grading of offenses under subsection (b)
(1) An offense under subsection (b) constitutes a felony of the third degree if:
(i) the offense falls within paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(2) or (b)(3);
(ii) the actor compels another to engage in or promote prostitution;
(iii) the actor promotes prostitution of a child under the age of 16 years, whether or not he is aware of the age of the child;
(iv) the actor promotes prostitution of his spouse, child, ward or any person for whose care, protection or support he is responsible, or
(v) the person knowingly promoted prostitution of another who was HIV positive or infected with the AIDS virus.
(2) Otherwise the offense is a misdemeanor of the second degree.
(d) Living off prostitutes – A person, other than the prostitute or the prostitute’s minor child or other legal dependent incapable of self-support, who is knowingly support in whole or substantial part by the proceeds of prostitution is promoting prostitution in violation of subsection (b) of this section.
(e) Patronizing prostitutes – A person commits the offense of patronizing prostitutes if that person hires a prostitute or any other person to engage in sexual activity with him or her or if that person enters or remains in a house of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.
(e.1) Grading of offenses under subsection (e) – An offense under subsection (e) constitutes a:
(1) Misdemeanor of the third degree when the offense is a first or second offense.
(2) Misdemeanor of the second degree when the offense is a third offense.
(3) Misdemeanor of the first degree when the offense is a fourth or subsequent offense.
(4) Felony of the third degree if the person who committed the offense knew that he or she was human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) positive or manifesting acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
(e.2) Publication of sentencing order – A court imposing a sentence for a second or subsequent offense committed under subsection (e) shall public the sentencing order in a newspaper of general circulation in the judicial district in which the court sits, and the court costs imposed on the person sentenced shall include the cost of publishing the sentencing order.
(f) Definitions – As used in this section the following words and phrases shall have the meanings given to them in this subsection:
“House of Prostitution.” Any place where prostitution or promotion of prostitution is regularly carried on by one person under the control, management or supervision of another.
“Inmate.” A person who engages in prostitution in or through the agency of a house of prostitution.
“Public place.” Any place to which the public or any substantial group thereof has access.
“Sexual activity.” Includes homosexual and other deviate sexual relations.”