Prostitution Laws in Colorado

Understand the various prostitution-related offenses and their penalties under Colorado law.

By , Attorney

Colorado's prostitution laws cover a wide range of conduct. While acts of prostitution are petty offenses, most other prostitution offenses are felonies. The harshest penalties apply for offenses involving prostituted children.

Is Prostitution Legal in Colorado?

No. Prostitution and related offenses are not legal in Colorado. State law prohibits prostitution of and by adults, as well as the prostitution of children. Cities and towns may also have their own laws against prostitution.

Colorado Prostitution Laws and Penalties

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

  • work as a prostitute
  • solicit or patronize a prostitute
  • convince or intimidate another to work as a prostitute, or
  • profit from someone who's working as a prostitute.

Colorado has one set of laws and penalties that apply when the prostituted individual is 18 or older. Another set of laws and stiffer penalties apply to the prostitution of a child younger than 18. It's never a defense to child prostitution charges that the defendant did not know the child's age or reasonably believed the child was over 18 years old.

Below we'll review the various prostitution-related offenses and penalties.

Penalties for Prostitution

A person commits the crime of prostitution in Colorado by performing, or offering or agreeing to perform, any sexual act in exchange for money or compensation. Sexual acts included under the prostitution laws include vaginal, oral, and anal sex and masturbation. Prostitution is a petty offense, punishable by up to 10 days in jail and a $300 fine. (The child prostitution laws do not penalize prostituted children.)

It's also a petty offense for a person to say or do anything to promote prostitution in a public place or within public view. This offense is referred to as "making a display." 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.

Penalties for Soliciting Prostitution and Child Prostitution

It's illegal for a person to solicit another for prostitution. Soliciting includes not only propositioning someone but also arranging or offering to arrange a meeting or meet-up place for the purpose of prostitution.

A defendant who solicits an adult faces a petty offense and up to 10 days in jail and a $300 fine. Soliciting of a child younger than 18 is a class 3 felony, punishable by 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000.

Penalties for Patronizing a Prostitute or Prostituted Child

In Colorado, a person commits the crime of patronizing by:

  • engaging in a sexual act with a prostitute or prostituted child, or
  • visiting a place of prostitution intending to engage in a sexual act.

Patronizing an adult prostitute is a petty offense, punishable by up to 10 days in jail and a $300 fine. However, a person commits a class 3 felony if the prostituted individual is a child. Class 3 felonies carry 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000.

Penalties for Pimping or Pandering Prostitution

Laws against pimping and pandering are aimed at third parties who benefit from the sex trade.

Pimping refers to profiting from, or living on, earnings made by another through prostitution. Pimping of an adult or child constitutes a class 3 felony. A conviction can mean 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000.

Pandering involves facilitating, promoting, or inducing another to commit prostitution. This offense is a class 2 misdemeanor and carries a maximum penalty of 120 days in jail and a $750 fine. Pandering becomes a class 5 felony when a defendant uses threats or intimidation to induce another to commit prostitution. Class 5 felonies are punishable by one to three years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000.

Pandering a child to commit prostitution carries class 2 and 3 felony penalties. If the offense involves threats or intimidation, the defendant can face 8 to 24 years in prison for a class 2 felony. In all other cases, the crime is a class 3 felony with penalties of 4 to 12 years in prison and fines of $3,000 to $750,000. It's also a class 3 felony to procure a child for prostitution by transporting or making the child available.

Additional Penalties for Crimes Involving Prostituted Children

The penalties listed above for crimes involving prostituted children are just the start. Defendants will face additional consequences for a conviction and even harsher penalties for those who commit repeat or violent offenses.

Crime-of-Violence Sentencing

Felony-level offenses for prostituting children will be considered a crime of violence if the defendant causes bodily injury to a child or uses threat, force, or intimidation. Crime-of-violence enhancements increase the maximum sentencing range that can be imposed. For instance, class 3 felonies increase from 4 to 12 years to 10 to 32 years, and the range for class 2 felonies goes from 8 to 24 years to 16 to 48 years' incarceration.

Habitual Sex Offenses Against Children

An offender convicted of two or more "unlawful sexual offenses against children" faces enhanced penalties as a habitual sex offender. The list of unlawful sexual offenses against children includes all of the above child prostitution offenses, along with other child sex crimes.

If the defendant's current conviction is a felony, the court must impose a sentence of not less than three times the standard (presumptive) sentence. A defendant who's facing a current conviction for a misdemeanor will receive a sentence that's three times the maximum for that misdemeanor class.

Sex Offender Registration

Anyone convicted of the above child prostitution crimes must register as a sex offender in Colorado.

License Revocation

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. Similar laws may apply to other fields.

Obtaining Legal Advice and Representation

If you're facing charges for a prostitution-related offense, contact a criminal defense attorney. An attorney can explain the charges, review the potential consequences, and defend your case.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 16-22-102, 16-22-103, 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-406, 18-1.3-501, 18-1.3-503, 18-3-412, 18-7-201, 18-7-201.3, 18-7-202, 18-7-203, 18-7-204, 18-7-205, 18-7-205.5, 18-7-206, 18-7-207, 18-7-401, 18-7-402, 18-7-403, 18-7-403.5, 18-7-405, 18-7-405.5, 18-7-406, 18-7-407, 18-7-409, 22-2-119.5, 22-60.5-107 (2022).)

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