Prostitution Laws in Nevada

Nevada Prostitution Laws

Prostitution is defined as the act of offering sexual services for some form of payment. In the entire US, however, only Nevada allows prostitution, with certain regulations in place to ensure that it is legal and properly regulated. Contrary to popular belief, prostitution is not legal in Las Vegas or Reno. It is only legal in 10 of 16 counties in Nevada and even then can only take place in brothels. This misconception makes arrests for solicitation frequent throughout the state. A charge of solicitation in Nevada can bring serious legal consequences, from fines to jail time.

prostitution in nevada
Map of 20 operating brothels in Nevada via

To gain a better understanding of these regulations – and their implications – this article takes an in-depth look at prostitution in Nevada.

Legal Prostitution in Nevada

Prostitution is illegal in the state of Nevada, including both Reno and Las Vegas. This means that brothels, escort services, strippers, and other forms of sexual solicitation are not allowed except in very specific parts of the state where licensed prostitution occurs. These areas include rural counties such as Elko, Storey, and Lyon; each now has its own laws governing prostitution activity. Generally speaking, licensed prostitutes must be 18 years old or older and must submit to regular health check-ups. They must also register themselves with local law enforcement before engaging in any activities related to prostitution.

Solicitation of prostitution is defined as actively looking to purchase sexual services from another person. If this is done outside of a jurisdiction and business where prostitution is legal, it is a crime. If you are facing a charge of solicitation of prostitution, you should contact a lawyer immediately.

Under state law, any county in Nevada that has a population of fewer than 400,000 is permitted to have a brothel. Towns and cities that lie within these counties have the option of allowing them or outlawing them altogether. Currently, prostitution is legal in:

  1. Nye County
  2. White Pine County (Ely, NV only)
  3. Storey County
  4. Churchill County
  5. Lander County
  6. Lyon County (Mound House, NV only)
  7. Elko County (Only: Elko, Carlin, Wendover, and Wells, NV)
  8. Humbolt County (Winnemucca, NV only)
  9. Mineral County
  10. Esmeralda County

In highly populated areas such as Reno or Las Vegas, prostitution is illegal and various stings are carried out by the law enforcement officials in these cities to catch those offering prostitution services as well as those who try to buy them. All forms of prostitution that occur outside of licensed brothels are considered unlawful. Those who engage in such activities can, therefore, face serious consequences such as fines or even jail time.

Prostitution Arrests

If apprehended by the authorities for prostitution in Nevada, one can be fined a maximum of $1000 or be sentenced to a maximum of six months in jail. Usually, first-time offenders are given warnings and/or sentenced to attend a class. However, repeat offenders will have to pay fines and serve jail time.

The authorities often make arrests through undercover stings at major casinos in Nevada, as well as popular strip or gentleman’s clubs. In an undercover operation, male police officers pose as customers and if they are approached for sexual services, they reveal themselves and arrest the offender. Through this process, exotic dancers as well as adult entertainers are often arrested for solicitation or suspected prostitution (NRS 201.353).

Las Vegas has also been identified by the FBI as one of 14 cities in the US that has a high rate of child prostitution. In Nevada, it is strictly illegal and if apprehended, will result in fines as well as jail time if found guilty.

Prostitution Sting Operations

Cities like Reno and Las Vegas, where there are huge populations, have stringent laws outlawing prostitution. In these cities, the police work hard to prosecute those who solicit or offer sexual favors for compensation. Oftentimes, law enforcement officials carry out undercover sting operations to enforce the city’s sex trade laws. These operations are usually carried out at popular hotels, casinos, as well as strip clubs, and gentleman’s clubs as well.

There are typically two types of sting operations carried out by Nevada officials. In one scenario, a male officer acts as a customer and if they are approached with an offer for sex in exchange for compensation, they reveal themselves as law enforcement and apprehend the suspect.

In the second type of operation, a female police officer poses as a prostitute and if she is approached by anyone and solicited to perform sexual acts in exchange for payment, she reveals herself as law enforcement and arrests the perpetrator.

Police Stings and Entrapment

While these sting operations lead to many arrests and are considered by some to be effective, others question whether or not they are in violation of the entrapment laws in Nevada. Entrapment is when one is unfairly coaxed into committing an illegal act by a police official when they otherwise would not have. If the police officer initiates the conversation or mentions sexual favors in exchange for money or other form of payment in a way that entices the suspect into offering to perform the illegal act, then it falls under entrapment and the suspect can not be prosecuted.

Consequences of Solicitation of Prostitution

A conviction of solicitation of prostitution (NRS 201.354) can carry many penalties, including:

  • Jail – The crime is a misdemeanor with a punishment of a maximum of 6 months in jail. First-time offenders may be spared jail time.
  • Fines – You may be fined up to $1000 if you are convicted.

When it comes to the various penalties associated with prostitution, there are multiple factors to consider, including the defendant’s role.

For the Alleged Prostitute

If an individual is accused of being a prostitute, the offense is usually considered a misdemeanor. This carries a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail, though this is relatively uncommon.

For the Alleged Customer

In cases of alleged customers, there are two penalties for first offenses: a misdemeanor with a fine of up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail, as well as an additional $400 fine and a civil penalty fine of $200. For second offenses, these are considered gross misdemeanors carrying a fine of up to $2,000 and/or one year in jail, an additional $800 fine, and a civil penalty fine of $200. If charged with a third offense, they would again be categorized as a gross misdemeanor, but also incur an additional fine of $1,300. It is possible to opt out of paying the $200 civil penalty fine by taking part in community service instead.

HIV-Positive Prostitutes

If an alleged prostitute has been diagnosed with HIV, then the offense can be treated as a more serious crime and be classified as a category B Felony, carrying two to ten years in Nevada State Prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines.

Soliciting Minors

Those accused of soliciting individuals under the age of eighteen are subject to harsher consequences. A first offense is considered a category E felony, punishable with probation and a suspended sentence. For second offenses, this is increased to a category D felony, with one to four years in prison and possibly up to $5,000 in fines.

Failure to Appear

Some out-of-towners do not appear for their court date. This makes things much worse. First, an arrest warrant will be issued. This warrant will be sent to authorities in your area, where you will be arrested and extradited. You will then have to stand trial for failure to appear as well as for solicitation of prostitution. Fleeing may also disqualify you from any first-time offender leniency.

Pandering Defense

A much more serious offense than prostitution is Pandering and if the crime involves a minor, the penalties are oftentimes much more severe, and is typically charged as a class A felony. Nevada law firms have an extensive understanding of the complexities of pandering cases. There are a number of strategies that we can use in our defense. We fight aggressively to protect your rights and your freedom. Our primary focus is beating the charges brought against you!

Defense for Solicitation of Prostitution

When an alleged prostitute offers sexual services in exchange for payment or a suspected customer, or “John,” seeks to provide payment for sex, either party can be detained and charged with misdemeanor solicitation. These cases often revolve around circumstantial evidence and can be tough to prove. When you hire a Nevada criminal lawyer, they will thoroughly examine all of the evidence and present the strongest possible case in your defense.

When it comes to criminal proceedings related to solicitation of prostitution, defendants have several options for defending themselves. This article will outline three common defenses that may be used in such cases.


Entrapment is an illegal practice wherein a law enforcement agent induces someone to commit a crime, such as solicitation of prostitution. If evidence can be provided that shows the agent induced or encouraged the commission of the crime, then the prosecution’s case can be weakened or even dismissed.

Illegal Police Search

If police officers have overreached their authority and obtained evidence illegally outside of the scope outlined by the Fourth Amendment, this could constitute grounds for dismissing a case entirely. Defendants should be aware that they do possess certain rights when it comes to protecting their privacy and freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Lack of Overtness

In Nevada, a solicitation must be overt in order for it to qualify as a criminal act. If there is any ambiguity regarding the intent of the actions, this could be used as part of the defense. All pertinent details must be examined in order to determine if a solicitation was actually taking place.

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