In Alabama, it is a crime to buy or sell sex, attempt to buy or sell sex, make money from prostitution, or help others engage in prostitution.
For more information on prostitution laws generally, see Prostitution.
A person commits the crime of prostitution in Alabama by participating in any sex act or sexual contact in exchange for money or anything else of value. Both sellers and buyers of sex can be prosecuted under Alabama’s laws.
Under Alabama’s laws, it is also a crime for anyone to:
- solicit or compel another person to commit prostitution
- agree to engage in prostitution, or
- give or accept money (or anything else of value) for prostitution.
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-12-120, 13A-12-121.)
For example, someone who asks to buy sex or agrees to pay for sex could be prosecuted for prostitution, even if the sex act never takes place.
Pimping and Pandering
Often thought of as the same thing, pimping and pandering are separate crimes.
Pimping (also called profiting from prostitution) involves accepting money (or anything else of value) made as a result of prostitution. The prosecutor must also prove that the defendant knew that the prostitute would be selling sex for money or other valuables, and had a prior agreement to receive the proceeds.
Pandering (also called advancing prostitution) is committed by someone who knows that someone else is buying or selling sex and:
- causes another to commit prostitution
- assists another in committing prostitution
- finds or solicits “johns”
- finds or provides prostitutes or a place for prostitution, or
- operates a house of prostitution.
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-12-110, 13A-12-121.)
For example, a person who provides “escorts” to business travelers could be convicted of pandering.
For more on pimping and pandering, see Pimping and Pandering.
Aggravated Pimping or Pandering
Pimping and pandering are punished more severely if:
- the defendant manages, controls, or owns a house of prostitution or a prostitution business with two or more prostitutes
- the prostitute is compelled by force or intimidation to engage in prostitution, or
- the prostitute is under the age of 18.
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-12-111, 13A-12-112.)
In addition to Alabama’s state laws, Jefferson County (where Birmingham is located) has a local law against prostitution. For the most part, Jefferson’s County’s law duplicates the state laws against prostitution, pandering, and pimping.
However, in Jefferson County, it is also a crime for a bellhop or other employee of a hotel, motel, or apartment building to:
- bring a prostitute to a guest’s room, or
- carry a note or message in order to further prostitution.
It is also a crime in Jefferson County for a hotel owner or manager to employ anyone who has been convicted of aiding prostitution.
(Ala. Const., amend. 688.)
It is a defense to a charge of pimping or pandering if the defendant did not know that the other people involved were engaged in buying and selling sex.
In Alabama, prostitution, pimping, and pandering are class A misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000. Likewise, any violation of Jefferson County’s local law is a class A misdemeanor.
Managing, controlling, or owning a house of prostitution or prostitution business with two or more prostitutes is a class C felony, punishable by from one year and one day in prison to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Pimping or pandering a prostitute under the age of 18 is also a class C felony. Pandering by compelling a person to engage in prostitution or profiting from the coercive conduct of others, and pimping or pandering a prostitute under the age of 16, are class B felonies, punishable by two to 20 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $30,000.
(Ala. Code §§ 13A-5-6, 13A-5-7, 13A-5-11, 13A-5-12, 13A-12-111, 13A-12-112, 13A-12-113, 13A-12-122.)
Sex offender registration
Aggravated pimping and pandering are considered sex offenses under Alabama’s sex offender registration law. People convicted of these crimes are required to register as a sex offender for life.
(Ala. Code §§ 15-20A-3, 15-20A-5.)
A conviction for prostitution or a related crime can also have other consequences. For example, the State Superintendent of Education can revoke any teaching certificate if the teacher is convicted of immoral conduct, such as prostitution.
(Ala. Code § 16-23-5.)
Similar laws may also apply to other jobs.
Legal Advice and Representation
If you are charged with pimping, pandering, or a related crime, you should contact an Alabama criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction can result in a fine, a jail or prison term, or job loss. In particular, if you are ordered to register as a sex offender, you will face life-long challenges in where you can live and work. An experienced attorney will be able to tell you how your case is likely to fare in court depending on the facts and the assigned judge and prosecutor. With an attorney’s help, you can hopefully achiever the best possible outcome in your case.