Prostitution and a variety of acts related to it are crimes under Illinois law. In addition to criminal penalties, some prostitution-related crimes require the defendant to register as a sex offender and carry other consequences.
In Illinois, prostitution consists of performing, or offering or agreeing to perform a sexual act for anything of value. It’s a Class A misdemeanor unless committed within 1,000 feet of a school, in which case it’s a Class 4 felony. A second or subsequent prostitution conviction, or a conviction after a conviction for a crime related to prostitution, is a Class 4 felony.
A judge has the option of sentencing a defendant to 24 months of probation for a first offense of felony prostitution. The probation conditions must include periodic drug testing and 30 hours of community service.
A minor—that is, someone under the age of 18—who is arrested for prostitution isn’t subject to prosecution, but rather temporary protective custody. The authorities must investigate whether she or he is a victim of child abuse or neglect. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-14.)
Solicitation of a Sexual Act
Whenever someone offers another person anything of value in exchange for sexual conduct, he or she has solicited a sexual act. This offense is a Class A misdemeanor, but it becomes a Class 4 felony if the defendant has solicited a minor or someone who is “severely or profoundly intellectually disabled.” A defendant isn’t guilty of juvenile solicitation—only adult solicitation—if he or she reasonably believed the person solicited was at least 18 years old or not intellectually disabled.
It’s not a crime to solicit a sexual act from one’s spouse. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-14.1.)
Patronizing a Prostitute
Patronizing a prostitute is a Class 4 felony that involves
- engaging in a sexual act with a prostitute, or
- entering or remaining somewhere prostitution occurs while intending to engage in sexual penetration.
Patronizing a prostitute within 1,000 feet of a school is a Class 3 felony. A second or subsequent patronizing conviction, or a patronizing conviction after a conviction for a crime related to prostitution, is also a Class 3 felony.
If the defendant is married to the prostitute, he or she cannot be convicted of patronizing. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-18.)
Unless the defendant reasonably believes the prostitute is an adult or not intellectually disabled, patronizing a prostitute who is either under the age of 18 or seriously mentally disabled is a Class 3 felony. If the crime occurs within 1,000 feet of a school it’s a Class 2 felony. A second or subsequent conviction for patronizing a juvenile prostitute, or any such conviction after a conviction for a crime related to prostitution, is a Class 2 felony. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-18.1.)
Promoting prostitution is a Class 4 felony that becomes a Class 3 felony when committed within 1,000 feet of a school. It occurs when a person who isn’t merely engaging in prostitution profits from it by
- forcing someone to become a prostitute
- arranging or offering to arrange a situation in which someone can practice prostitution, or
- any other means.
Promoting prostitution may also be committed by “advancing prostitution,” which occurs when someone, acting other than as a prostitute or customer, does any of the following:
- tries to convince another person to take part in prostitution
- arranges or offers to arrange a prostitution meeting
- directs another person somewhere for the purpose of prostitution
- allows a place under his or her control to be used for prostitution
- allows a place under his or her control to be used when the circumstances reasonably suggest it will be used for prostitution, or
- allows others to continue to use a place under his or her control when the circumstances reasonably suggest that the place is being used for prostitution. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-0.1, 5/11-14.3)
If minors or mentally disabled people are in involved in any of the above acts, the offense is a Class 1 felony. If someone advances juvenile prostitution within 1,000 feet of a school, the crime is a Class X felony (carrying a range of six and 60 years in prison). It’s also a Class X felony when the defendant profits from the prostitution of someone under the age of 13.
Another Class X felony occurs when someone confines a minor or mentally retarded person for purposes of prostitution
- through the use or threat of serious physical injury, or
- by forcing, threatening, or deceiving the victim into consuming alcohol or drugs.
The defendant isn't liable for promoting juvenile prostitution if he or she reasonably believed—based on a limited opportunity to observe—that the juvenile or mentally retarded person involved was at least 18 years old and not mentally retarded. However, this defense is not available to someone who has confined his or her victim through violence or drugs. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-14.4.)
Property used in the course of committing certain offenses—such as promoting juvenile prostitution or keeping a place of juvenile prostitution—is subject to forfeiture. This means, for example, that someone who uses a house for minors to engage in prostitution may have to forfeit the house to the government if convicted. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-14.4, 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/124B-10, 5/124B-100.)
For more information on civil forfeiture, see Forfeiting Property in a Federal Criminal Case.
Conviction for attempting to or actually committing any of the above offenses triggers the suspension of an educator license and teaching certificate. When the conviction becomes final—in other words, when the defendant cannot appeal it any further—the license or certificate is permanently revoked. (105 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/21B-80, 5/34-84b.)
Sex Offender Registration
Prostitution-related crimes may also trigger a duty to register with the government. Sex offenders must register with the local chief of police or sheriff’s department, providing a litany of personal information. Among their duties, registrants must notify law enforcement if they will be away from their current address for three or more days and must provide an itinerary for travel. They must also immediately report any changes in their employment. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/3.)
Conviction of any of the following offenses—or of attempting any of them—requires the defendant to register as a “sex offender”:
- promoting juvenile prostitution
- soliciting for a juvenile prostitute
- patronizing a juvenile prostitute
- keeping a place of juvenile prostitution
- juvenile pimping
- promoting prostitution that involves soliciting for a prostitute
- profiting from prostitution, and
- pandering where the victim is a minor
A sex offender is considered a “sexual predator” if he or she is convicted of attempting to or actually
- advancing or profiting from prostitution by keeping a place of juvenile prostitution
- profiting from prostitution where the victim is a juvenile or severely mentally retarded
- using violence, drugs, or alcohol to confine a minor or mentally retarded person for purposes of prostitution, or
- pimping a juvenile. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. 150/2.)
In addition, child sex offenders are subject to a number of prohibitions that, if violated, result in Class 4 felony convictions. For example, they cannot
- go near a school for any reason other than the presence of their own children
- approach or communicate with any children other than their own when at a public park, or
- live near playgrounds or child care facilities.
Offenses that qualify someone as a “child sex offender” include promoting juvenile prostitution and patronizing a juvenile prostitute, or attempting to do either. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/11-9.3.)
Illinois imposes the following sentences for felonies, in addition to a possible fine of up to $2,500:
- Class X felony: from six to 60 years' imprisonment
- Class 1 felony: four to 15 years' imprisonment
- Class 2 felony: from three to seven years' imprisonment, and
- Class 3 felony: from two to five years' imprisonment.