Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in Washington

Washington has laws against buying, selling, or profiting from the sale of sex. For more information on prostitution laws generally, see Prostitution.

Prostitution and Patronizing a Prostitute

Prostitution --exchanging sex for money or other items of value-- is illegal in Washington.

It is also against the law to solicit (offer to exchange money for sex) or patronize (buy sex from) a prostitute; or to pay a third person to set up these activities.

(Wa. Rev. Ann. Code § 9A.88.030 & 9A.88.110.)

Getting Out of Prostitution

Many people engage in prostitution because they feel there are no alternatives. If you are involved in prostitution and would like to stop, there are organizations that can help you.

Pimping and Promoting

It is also a crime in Washington to pimp or “promote” prostitution, to sell travel services knowing they will be used to patronize prostitutes, and to permit prostitution in a building that you rent, own, or reside in.

Promoting Prostitution

There are two categories of this crime, each with its own punishment.

You are guilty of promoting prostitution in the first degree, a class B felony, if you knowingly advance prostitution by:

  • compelling a person by threat or force to engage in prostitution
  • compelling a person with a mental incapacity or developmental disability that renders the person incapable of consent to engage in prostitution, or
  • profiting from prostitution that results from either of the above.

(Wa. Rev. Ann. Code § 9A.88.070.)

You are guilty of promoting prostitution in the second degree, a less serious class C felony, if you knowingly:

  • advance (cause or aid) prostitution (not through the use of threat or force), or
  • profit from prostitution.

(Wa. Rev. Ann. Code § 9A.88.080.)

Promoting travel for prostitution

It is a class C felony to offer or sell travel services when the purpose of the travel is to engage in what would be patronizing a prostitute if the behavior took place within Washington state.

(Wa. Rev. Ann. Code § 9A.88.085.)

Permitting prostitution

It is a misdemeanor to permit prostitution in a building that you have possession or control of (this includes places that you rent, own, or reside in), if you know about the prostitution and do nothing to stop it.

(Wa. Rev. Ann. Code § 9A.88.090.)

Punishment

The fines and jail (or prison) time that apply to your conviction depend on the offense.

Prostitution and patronizing

Prostitution and patronizing a prostitute are misdemeanors, and penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, or both.

Pimping and promoting

Promoting in the first degree is a class B felony, and penalties include a fine of up to $20,000, up to ten years in prison, or both.

Promoting, and promoting travel for prostitution are class C felonies, and penalties include a fine of up to $10,000, up to five years in prison, or both.

Permitting prostitution

Permitting prostitution is a misdemeanor, and penalties include a fine of up to $1,000, up to 90 days in jail, or both.

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

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

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