Prostitution is typically thought to be illegal throughout the United States, which technically isn’t accurate. Each state has the right to set its own laws on prostitution and the majority have banned it in some manner.

Nevada, though, is a little different. The state of Nevada has set specific laws that legalize prostitution in certain counties, but not all. In fact, the laws are very specific, and the industry is highly regulated. After all, prostitution does have the potential to pose a public health threat as well as open the door to other criminal activity.

When looking specifically at the legality of prostitution in Las Vegas, there’s quite a bit to unpack. Here’s what you need to know.



Is prostitution legal in Las Vegas?

Despite the popular misconceptions, prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas.

Nevada law has specific requirements regarding where prostitution is legal and even where it is allowed to take place.

NRS 244.345  Dancing halls, escort services, entertainment by referral services, and gambling games or devices; limitation on licensing of houses of prostitution.

  • Prostitution is only legal in Nevada counties that have a population of less than 700,000

Within those counties, the locations of houses of prostitution are also regulated. If they do not abide by these laws they can be fined and will be forced to move their operation to bring it into compliance with the law.

NRS 201.380  Restriction on location of houses of ill fame; penalty.

  • A house or structure used for prostitution, including rooms and rentals, cannot be located
    • Within 400 yards of any schoolhouse or property that is used by any common or public school in Nevada
    • Within 400 yards of any church building, chapel, edifice, or structure that has been built for the purpose of and is used for religious worship or devotional services in Nevada

Brothels cannot be located in certain areas of any business district in Nevada counties where prostitution is legal.

NRS 201.390  Property on principal business streets not to be rented for purposes of prostitution; penalty.

  • A house or structure used for prostitution must
    • Not be located so that it fronts the principal business street or thoroughfare of any Nevada town
    • No entrance or exit can be located on the principal business street or thoroughfare of any Nevada town


How does prostitution work in Las Vegas?

Under Nevada law, prostitution is only legal when performed in a licensed brothel. All other types of prostitution are illegal, which include:

  • Escort services that offer sexual favors
  • Streetwalking
  • Massage parlors that offer “happy endings”

Sex workers are also regulated and must comply with certain requirements:

  • Must be adults (at least 18 years of age)
  • Have a state-issued work card
  • Submit to regular testing for sexually transmitted diseases including HIV and syphilis
  • Use a condom while performing sex
  • Work of their own free will
  • Get paid a fair wage
  • Work in a safe environment

Brothels are required to follow certain safety rules as defined by the state. This includes monthly blood tests for syphilis and HIV for all sex workers. They also must submit to periodic testing to ensure they are free of other STDs.


Are escorts legal in Las Vegas?

In Las Vegas, escorts are legal as long as they line up with the definition put forth by Nevada law which is a person who is hired to accompany someone in either a public or private setting. There are certain requirements with which escorts must comply in order to remain on the right side of the law.

  • They must be licensed
  • They must have work cards
  • They may not offer sexual favors for a fee (anything of value, not only money) which include, but are not limited to:
    • Intercourse
    • Oral sex
    • Anal sex
    • Groping (even over clothing)
  • They may not advertise that they offer sex

Any escort who advertises or offers sexual favors for a fee as well as any client who seeks that type of transaction or agrees to it can be charged with prostitution and/or pandering. Even if one of both parties agrees to exchange sex for a fee but the act never occurs, they can still be charged.


What is the penalty for prostitution in Las Vegas?

The penalties for prostitution in Las Vegas can include fines as well as jail time.

NRS 201.354  Unlawful for customer to engage in prostitution or solicitation for prostitution except in licensed house of prostitution: Criminal penalties; civil penalty; discharge and dismissal.

  • The defendant is the alleged prostitute
    • Misdemeanor
      • Maximum fine $1,000
      • Maximum jail time 6 months
  • The defendant is the alleged customer of a prostitute
    • First Offense – Misdemeanor
      • Maximum fine $1000
      • $400 additional fine
      • $200 civil penalty or community service
    • Second Offense – Gross Misdemeanor
      • Maximum fine $2,000
      • Maximum jail time 364 days
      • $800 additional fine
      • $200 civil penalty or community service
    • Third Offense – Gross Misdemeanor
      • Maximum fine $2,000
      • Maximum jail time 364 days
      • $1,300 additional fine
      • $200 civil penalty or community service
  • The defendant is the alleged customer who is soliciting a child who is younger than 18 years old (suspended prison sentences or probation are not available for this crime)
    • First Offense – Category D Felony
      • Minimum 1 year to Maximum 4 years in prison
      • Maximum $5,000 fine
    • Second Offense – Category C Felony
      • Minimum 1 year to Maximum 5 years in prison
      • Maximum $10,000 fine
    • Third and Subsequent Offenses – Category B Felony
      • Minimum 1 year to Maximum 6 years in prison
      • Maximum $25,000 fine

NRS 201.358  Engaging in prostitution or solicitation for prostitution after testing positive for exposure to human immunodeficiency virus: Penalty; definition. 

  • The defendant is the alleged prostitute who knows that they are positive for HIV
    • Category B Felony
      • Minimum 2 years to Maximum 10 years in prison
      • $10,000 fines


What are the defenses for prostitution?

Three defenses are commonly used for fighting solicitation charges in Las Vegas:

  • Entrapment
  • Lack of overtness
  • Illegal police search

A first-time prostitution charge may be dismissed in some cases through a diversion program where the defendant is required to complete certain terms:

  • A fine of $250 or community service
  • “John School” which is an AIDS awareness class
  • No other citations or arrests until the case has been closed (does not include minor traffic violations)

Charges may also be reduced to disorderly conduct or trespass in some cases.

If you have been arrested for prostitution in Las Vegas, you need a criminal attorney who will fight for you. Call ATAC Law today and let us handle your case. Our experienced, skilled team of lawyers and law researchers will work hard to ensure that you have the best possible outcome for your case and that your rights are protected. You can’t afford to wait, call today.




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