Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in Texas

Learn how Texas penalizes prostitution-related offenses.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated March 29, 2024

Texas has laws against exchanging money for sexual services, as well as profiting from the sale of sex. Acts of prostitution are generally misdemeanors, but other acts committed by those who solicit, promote, or compel prostitution carry felony penalties.

Is Prostitution Legal in Texas?

No, prostitution and related offenses are not legal in Texas. The state prohibits engaging in, soliciting, promoting, or compelling prostitution. Cities and towns may also have local ordinances prohibiting prostitution.

Texas Prostitution Laws and Penalties

Texas, like many states, prohibits and penalizes prostitution offenses committed by those who:

  • work as a prostitute
  • solicit a prostitute (customer or patron)
  • promote prostitution (including online promotion), or
  • compel someone to engage in prostitution.

The harshest penalties apply to offenses involving prostituted children.

What Are the Penalties for Prostitution in Texas?

A person commits prostitution by offering or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct with another person for a fee. A first conviction for prostitution carries class B misdemeanor penalties. The penalty increases to a class A misdemeanor for second and third offenses. All subsequent convictions are state jail felonies.

Class B misdemeanors carry up to 180 days of jail time and a $2,000 fine. Class A misdemeanors have maximum jail sentences of one year and fines of up to $4,000. A person convicted of a state jail felony faces 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a $10,000 fine.

Child Prostitutes Younger Than 14

A Texas court ruled that children younger than 14 can't be charged with prostitution. The court reasoned that if a young child can't legally consent to sexual activities, they also can't legally agree to be paid for sex. (In re B.W., 313 S.W.3d 818 (Tex. Sup. Ct. 2010).)

Defense for Trafficking and Other Victims

Trafficking victims and any other victims compelled into prostitution can raise their victim status as a defense to prostitution charges.

(Tex. Penal Code § 43.02 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Soliciting a Prostitute in Texas?

It's a crime to agree to pay or offer to pay a prostitute for sexual conduct. This offense starts as a state jail felony, punishable by 180 days to 2 years in state jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

Repeat convictions for soliciting a prostitute carry third-degree felony penalties of 2 to 10 years' imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.

Soliciting a child. If the defendant solicits a minor younger than 18, the penalties increase to a felony of the second degree. Mistake of age is not a defense. It's also a second-degree felony if the defendant solicited the person believing they were younger than 18. Second-degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Offense near a school. Any solicitation offense committed on or near K-12 school grounds can be bumped up to the next offense level.

(Tex. Penal Code § 43.021 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Promoting Prostitution in Texas?

A person promotes prostitution by:

  • taking a cut of a prostitute's earnings, or
  • arranging prostitution services for another person.

Promoting Prostitution

Promoting prostitution carries third-degree felony penalties for a first offense and second-degree felony penalties for repeat offenses. It's a first-degree felony if the defendant promotes the prostitution of a minor. Mistake of age is not a defense. Operating a website or interactive computer service to promote prostitution carries similar penalties (referred to as online promotion of prostitution).

A third-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 10 years' imprisonment. Second-degree felonies carry 2 to 20 years in prison. A person convicted of a first-degree felony faces 5 to 99 years or life in prison. All of these felonies carry fines of up to $10,000.

Aggravated Promotion Offenses

Anyone who owns, invests in, finances, controls, supervises, or manages a business involving two or more prostitutes commits aggravated promotion of prostitution. For online promotions, it's an aggravated offense if the defendant seeks to promote five or more persons to engage in or solicit prostitution.

These aggravated offenses carry first-degree felony penalties, which can result in life imprisonment or 5 to 99 years' imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.

(Tex. Penal Code §§ 43.03, 43.031, 43.04, 43.041 (2024).)

What Are the Penalties for Compelling Prostitution in Texas?

First-degree felony penalties apply to offenses involving:

  • forcing, threatening, or coercing someone to engage in prostitution
  • causing a child younger than 18 to commit prostitution, or
  • causing a disabled person to commit prostitution.

A conviction can mean 5 to 99 years or life in prison and a $10,000 fine.

(Tex. Penal Code § 43.05 (2024).)

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

If you are charged with prostitution or a related crime, contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal legal system and obtain the best possible outcome in your case.

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