Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in New Mexico

New Mexico's legal definitions and consequences of pimping, pandering, and prostitution.

New Mexico has laws against buying and selling sex, child prostitution, and promoting or making money from the prostitution of another.

For more information on prostitution laws generally, see Prostitution.

In New Mexico, a person commits the crime of prostitution by engaging in (or offering to engage in) a sexual act in exchange for payment. Sexual acts include vaginal, anal, and oral sex, and masturbation of another.

(N.M. Stat. § 30-9-2.)

Under New Mexico’s laws, only people who sell sex can be convicted of prostitution. New Mexico has a separate law (see below) that criminalizes buying sex.

Patronizing Prostitutes

A “john” can be convicted of patronizing a prostitute in New Mexico if he or she:

  • goes into (or stays in) a house of prostitution or other place with the intent to engage in any sexual act with a prostitute, or
  • hires or offers to hire a person, knowing or believing that that the person is a prostitute.

(N.M. Stat. § 30-9-3.)

For example, a person who tried to hire an undercover police officer to engage in prostitution could be convicted of patronizing.

Promoting Prostitution

Laws against promoting prostitution are aimed at third parties who benefit from, facilitate, promote, or make money from prostitution. Prostitutes and “johns” cannot be convicted of promoting.

For more information on promoting prostitution, see Pimping and Pandering.

People who do the following, while knowing that prostitution is occurring, can be convicted of promoting prostitution:

  • owning or managing a house of prostitution or place where prostitution is permitted, practiced, or encouraged
  • renting any property so that it can be used for prostitution
  • procuring a prostitute
  • inducing anyone to become a prostitute
  • soliciting or finding “johns”
  • being paid to find a prostitute for a “john”
  • transporting (or finding or paying for the transportation of) a person within New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution, or
  • causing anyone to come into or leave New Mexico for the purpose of prostitution by promises, threats, fraud, or the pretense of marriage.

For example, a person who pays for someone’s bus ticket from Cloudcroft to Albuquerque so that the person can work in a brothel is guilty of promoting prostitution.

(N.M. Stat. § 30-9-4.)

Accepting Earnings

In New Mexico, it is also a crime to:

  • accept any money earned by another from prostitution
  • own or manage a house of prostitution or place where prostitution is practiced, or
  • derive any support from money earned from prostitution.

(N.M. Stat. § 30-9-4.1.)

For example, a pimp who takes a portion of a prostitute’s wages is guilty of accepting the earnings of a prostitute, but so is a man who allows his girlfriend to pay the rent on their apartment, knowing that she earns the money by engaging in prostitution at the strip club where she works.

Child Prostitution

A person commits the crime of sexual exploitation of a child by prostitution by:

  • making any money from a child under the age of 16 engaging in any prohibited sexual act (oral, anal, or vaginal sex, bestiality, masturbation, sadomasochism, or sexually explicit exhibition) with another, or
  • hiring (or offering to hire) a child over the age of 13 but under the age of 16 to engage in any prohibited sexual act.

(N.M. Stat. § § 30-6A-2, 30-6A-4.)

Racketeering

A person who engages in two or more incidents of promoting prostitution within five years can also be charged with racketeering (organized crime) under New Mexico’s laws.

(N.M. Stat. § 30-42-3.)

For more information on state racketeering charges, see State RICO Laws.

Liquor Control Act

Anyone who is licensed under the Liquor Control Act, such as the owner of a bar or nightclub, is prohibited from allowing prostitution—or allowing prostitutes to loiter or solicit “johns”—on the premises.

(N.M. Stat. § 60-7A-17.)

Punishment

Prostitution and patronizing are petty misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Subsequent convictions for prostitution and patronizing are punishable as misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Permitting loitering or prostitution in violation of the Liquor Control Act is also a misdemeanor.

Promoting prostitution and accepting the earnings of a prostitute are fourth degree felonies, punishable by up to 18 months’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Child prostitution is a second degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $12,500, except that making any money from a child under the age of 13 engaging in any prohibited sexual act is a first degree felony, punishable by up to 18 years’ imprisonment, and a fine of up to $15,000.

(N.M. Stat. § § 30-6A-4, 30-9-2, 30-9-3, 30-9-4, 30-9-4.1, 31-18-15, 31-19-1, 60-7A-25.)

Job loss

In addition to criminal penalties, people who are convicted of prostitution can also lose their jobs. For example, under New Mexico’s laws, the state board of education may deny, suspend, or revoke the teaching license of any person for “moral turpitude.”

(N.M. Stat. § 22-10A-31.)

Generally, prostitution and related crimes are considered crimes of “moral turpitude.” Similar laws may apply to other professions.

Sex offender registration

People who are convicted of child prostitution are also required to register under New Mexico’s Sex Offender Registration and Notification Act.

(N.M. Stat. § § 29-11A-3, 29-11A-4.)

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

If you are charged with prostitution or a related offense, you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Conviction can result in time in jail or prison, a fine, job loss, and even sex offender registration. An experienced attorney can tell you how your case is likely to fare in court and help you navigate the criminal justice system.

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