Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in North Carolina

In North Carolina, it is a crime to buy or sell sex, or promote or facilitate prostitution. North Carolina also has laws against child prostitution.

For more information on prostitution laws generally, see Prostitution.

Under North Carolina’s prostitution laws, which have not been revised since 1919, a person commits the crime of prostitution by offering or receiving sexual intercourse in exchange for money, making an appointment to do so, or engaging in indiscriminate sexual intercourse.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 14-203, 14-204.)

The criminalization of promiscuous but non-commercial sexual behavior, as described in the last part of the definition above, is almost certainly a relic of the past and not something that is normally enforced by police or prosecutors.

Loitering

In North Carolina, it is also a crime loiter in any public place (including a doorway or vehicle) in order to engage in prostitution. Loitering is repeatedly:

  • stopping, trying to stop, or gesturing to people passing by
  • stopping or trying to stop vehicles
  • trying to talk to people passing by, or
  • blocking people as they try to walk or drive by.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-204.1.)

Abetting Prostitution

Many states have laws against pimping (making money from the prostitution of others) and pandering (facilitating prostitution). North Carolina’s general prostitution law covers both buying and selling sex and third parties who benefit from or help others commit prostitution.

For more information on pimping and pandering, see Pimping and Pandering.

In North Carolina, a person also commits the crime of abetting prostitution by:

  • managing or operating a place for prostitution
  • occupying, residing, or entering into any place or vehicle for the purpose of prostitution
  • permitting any place you own or control to be used for prostitution with your knowledge
  • taking anyone to or receiving anyone into a place or vehicle for the purpose of prostitution
  • finding or soliciting anyone for prostitution, or
  • aiding anyone to commit prostitution.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-204.)

For example, a person who owns a massage parlor that is a front for prostitution can be convicted of abetting prostitution.

Child Prostitution

In North Carolina, it is a crime to promote or participate in the prostitution of a minor under the age of 18. Child prostitution is broadly defined to include not only sexual touching and vaginal, oral, and anal sex, but also torture, masturbation, sadomasochism, bestiality, urination and bowel movements, and display of the genitals.

A person commits the crime of promoting child prostitution by encouraging, forcing, supervising, or supporting the prostitution of a minor.

A person commits the crime of participating in child prostitution if he or she:

  • solicits or asks a minor to engage in prostitution, or
  • pays or agrees to pay for child prostitution.

A child cannot be convicted of participating in child prostitution.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 14-190.13, 14-190.18, 14-190.19.)

Defense

It is not a defense to a charge of child prostitution that the defendant was mistaken as to the child’s age.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 14-190.18, 14-190.19.)

Punishment

Prostitution and abetting prostitution are class 1 misdemeanors. Generally, class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 45 days in jail and a fine. If the defendant has prior convictions, class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 120 days in jail. First offenses for prostitution and abetting prostitution are punishable by probation only.

Loitering is also a class 1 misdemeanor.

Promoting or participating in the prostitution of a minor is a class C felony, punishable by 44 to 92 months in prison and up to 182 months in prison if the defendant has prior convictions. The court can also impose a fine.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 14-190.18, 14-190.19, 14-204.1, 14-207, 14-208, 15A-1340.17, 15A-1340.23.)

Sex offender registration

People who are convicted of child prostitution are required to register under North Carolina’s sex offender registry law. Registered sex offenders are prohibited from working with children.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § § 14-208.6, 14-208.7, 14-208.17.)

Other penalties

The board of education will automatically revoke the state license of any teacher or school administrator convicted of prostitution, abetting prostitution, or child prostitution.

(N.C. Gen. Stat. § 115C

Talk to a Lawyer

Need a lawyer? Start here.

How it Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you
NEED PROFESSIONAL HELP ?

Talk to a Sex Crime attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you