Sex, Crime, and Punishment in Las Vegas: A Review - Criminal Defense Lawyer Ross Goodman

Las Vegas has always been stereotyped as the City of Sin, due mostly to the abundance of casinos, gaming centers, high-rise clubs and other similar establishments, all concentrated in the heart of The Strip. No TV spot of Las Vegas will be complete without a bird’s eye view of iconic locations like The Mirage or MGM Grand, the easily recognizable ‘Welcome to Vegas’ sign, and the bustling night life in the locations along Las Vegas Boulevard. Sadly, this has also led to the misconception that the city has an established industry of prostitution.

As any criminal defense lawyer will say time and again to outsiders, the City of Las Vegas does not support prostitution. In fact, both are considered crimes in majority of Nevada, except in certain areas designated by law. This oversight is usually the reason why many tourists get arrested and accused of soliciting the services of a prostitute. Review some of the key points about sex trafficking and prostitution in Las Vegas below, to hopefully avoid a potential arrest in the future.

Getting the big picture

A key reason why many people get arrested on the grounds of soliciting sexual services in Las Vegas is because many of them do not know the standing restriction for pandering and prostitution within the city. Another reason is that these people do not know what other acts can count as prostitution as defined by State law.

  • Contrary to popular belief, prostitution is not limited to physical penetration. The generally-accepted definition of prostitution is ‘accepting of sexual favors for a monetary or similar fee’. This means that even something as simple as groping with clothes on can be considered as an act of prostitution. People should keep this in mind when hanging out with others in bars, so as to avoid being falsely accused of committing an act of prostitution.
  • It is important to note that some places in Nevada do have licensed brothels where acts of prostitution are allowed. These brothels, however, are located in rural counties far away from the busy commercial centers that Nevada is known for. These brothels are the only places where clients can interact with duly-registered prostitutes, and nowhere else. Engaging in sexual activities with a prostitute that is confirmed to be a minor is still illegal, however, and the discovery of such a crime will lead to the revocation of the brothel’s license to operate.

Facing the penalties

Nevada is no different when it comes to handing out punishment for those convicted for prostitution-related crimes. Whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, the convicted can expect to face extended jail time on top of fines and other severe penalties.

  • Engaging in prostitution and soliciting sexual services from a person, whether that person is a legally-recognized sex worker or not, are both considered misdemeanor cases by Nevada courts. As such, those convicted for either of these crimes can expect to face up to six months in jail, and pay a maximum of $1,000 in fines. Other penalties may be handed as the court sees fit; this usually includes a mandatory class on the dangers of sex solicitation in Nevada without following legal channels.
  • Far worse are the punishments for people convicted of pandering or actively pimping prostitutes without being recognized as a licensed brothel, or pandering prostitutes in Las Vegas itself. Pandering, more often referred to as sex trafficking, is a Category B felony, and is typically punishable with three to ten years in a Nevada prison, along with $10,000 in fines, on top of restitution that may be demanded by the prostitute or the family. Those found to be pandering underage prostitutes, however, are committing a Category A felony and can expect life imprisonment with parole only after 15 years, maximum $20,000 in fines, restitution, and sex offender registration. Note that federal courts can still be involved, and can hand out punishments more severe than what the circuit courts provide.

In defense

Many people are falsely accused and convicted for soliciting prostitution services in Las Vegas because they are uninformed of what constitutes as prostitution or soliciting it based on state law. For these situations, there are some key defensive arguments that can strongly support a defendant’s fight for innocence, provided they have the evidence to back these arguments up.

  • Many arrests involving individuals suspected to be conducting illicit sexual activities within establishments not licensed to provide for these activities are often conducted by undercover law enforcement agents. Often, these arrests would book everyone caught in the scene of the crime, whether or not they were actually involved in these indecent acts. The entrapment defense comes into play here, as the agents in question may have committed the mistake of wrongly arresting the defendant simply because he or she was at the scene of the arrest.
  • Another typical defense that crops up in many prostitution case proceedings is the Mistake defense. Many of those accused of committing any sexually-related crimes in Las Vegas had no idea that they were committing a crime in the first place. The defendant can claim that he or she did not act under the pretense that he or she agreed with the other party to do any lewd act that can be considered prostitution.

Convictions relating to any kind of prostitution-related crime in Las Vegas are difficult to defend against, but with the right defensive plan, one can expect to have his or her case dismissed within the shortest time possible. Just remember to get in touch with a seasoned defense lawyer who can provide their experience and knowledge for a more solid defense.