In Colorado, it is a crime to buy or sell sex. A person commits the crime of prostitution in Colorado by performing (or offering or agreeing to perform) any sex act in exchange for money with any person who is not his or her spouse. Colorado has a separate, specific law against patronizing a prostitute (see below).
Sex acts include vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and masturbation.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-7-201.)
Cities and towns may also have their own laws against prostitution in Colorado.
For more information on prostitution laws generally, see Prostitution.
Getting out of prostitution
Many people engage in prostitution because they think they have no other alternatives. If you are involved in prostitution and would like to stop, there are organizations that can help you.
A person also commits a crime in Colorado by saying or doing anything to promote prostitution in a public place. For example, a person who is working as a prostitute and waves at a car to get the driver’s attention could be convicted of making a display.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-7-207.)
In Colorado, a person commits the crime of patronizing by:
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-7-205.)
For example, a person who visits a brothel intending to pay for sex could be convicted of patronizing, even if the person is arrested before any sex act takes place.
Laws against pimping (earning money from prostitution) and pandering (facilitating or promoting prostitution) are aimed at third parties who benefit from the sex trade.
For more information on these crimes, see Pimping and Pandering Laws.
Colorado also has laws against child prostitution, including patronizing a prostituted child. A child is anyone under the age of 18. It is no defense to a charge patronizing a prostituted child that the defendant did not know the child’s age or reasonably believed the child was over 18 years old.
Children who engage in prostitution are not guilty of any crime.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-7-401, 18-7-406, 18-7-407.)
A person commits the crime of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute while infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) if he or she:
In order to be convicted for patronizing while infected with HIV, the defendant must actually engage in a sex act.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-7-201.7, 18-7-205.7.)
For more information, see Transmitting an STD.
Prostitution is a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of $50 to $750.
Making a display is a class 1 petty offense, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.
Patronizing is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by six to 18 months in jail and a fine of $500 to $5,000. People convicted of patronizing may also be required to pay an additional fine of up to $5,000 to a special fund for prostitution enforcement.
Patronizing a prostituted child is a class 3 felony, punishable by four to 12 years’ imprisonment and a fine of $5,000 to $750,000. If a defendant convicted of patronizing a prostituted child has previously been convicted of any sex offense against a child, the court must sentence the defendant to three times the maximum term of imprisonment.
Prostitution while infected with HIV infection is a class 5 felony, punishable by one to three years’ imprisonment, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. Patronizing while infected with HIV is a class 6 felony, punishable by one year to 18 months’ imprisonment, and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. The court can also sentence people who are convicted of prostitution while infected with HIV to participate in alcohol, drug, or mental health treatment.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-501, 18-1.3-503, 18-3-412, 18-7-201, 18-7-201.7, 18-7-205, 18-7-205.5, 18-7-205.7, 18-7-207, 18-7-401, 18-7-406.)
People who are convicted of prostitution or patronizing in Colorado are required to be tested for HIV. The test results are reported to the defendant and the District Attorney, but otherwise kept confidential unless the person is HIV positive and is later charged with prostitution or patronizing while infected with HIV.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-7-201.5, 18-7-205.5.)
People convicted of patronizing a prostituted child are required to register as sex offenders in Colorado.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 16-22-102, 16-22-103.)
A conviction for patronizing a prostituted child can also result in revocation of any teaching credential or license, mandatory disclosure of the conviction when applying for a job in education, and notification of the department of education of a teacher’s conviction.
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-7-409, 22-2-119, 22-60.5-107.)
Similar laws may apply to other fields.
Being convicted of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute can have serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, a fine, and a criminal record. Being convicted of patronizing a prostituted child can result in a lengthy prison sentence, as well as sex offender registration, which can have lasting consequences on where you can live and work. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney. An attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.