You might think it’s okay if a worker at a legitimate business such as a strip club or massage parlor offers to perform a sexual act for you in exchange for money. After all – especially in the case of strip clubs – aren’t they practically doing that already?
But paying or getting paid for a sexual act is never legal.
A 55-year-old Colorado Springs woman was recently reminded of this when she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to pimping for working. She had been working with another local woman and her husband, who were previously charged with providing women to Colorado Springs massage parlors for prostitution.
This incident serves as a stark reminder of the consequences of offering sex for money – even while operating out of a legitimate business. Police regularly perform sting operations such as this one throughout Colorado, seeking to catch both prostitutes and their patrons. The Colorado Springs incident also serves as a warning to those who are associated with prostitution operations, even if they are not the individuals buying or performing the services. Arranging prostitution or directing an individual to a place where they can purchase acts of prostitution is also a crime.
Prohibited Prostitution-Related Acts and Their Penalties in Colorado
Colorado law prohibits many prostitution-related activities, including solicitation (asking someone to participate in a crime, in this case prostitution), patronizing a prostitute, and pimping. The punishments range from mild to severe, depending on the circumstances.
Prostitution. Prostitution is defined by Colorado law as performing, offering, or agreeing to any sex act in exchange for money or other items of value with any person other than your spouse. Prostitution is usually a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a $50-$750 fine. If an individual engages in prostitution knowing they are HIV positive, the charge is upgraded to a Class 5 felony, presumptively punished by 1 to 3 years in prison and a $1,000 to $100,000 dollar fine.
Patronizing a Prostitute. The first time you are charged with patronizing a prostitute, it is considered a Class 1 petty offense, punishable by a fine of up to $500 and up to 6 months in jail. The second and subsequent offenses are Class 1 misdemeanors, and carry penalties of 6 to 18 months in jail and fines from $500 to $5,000. Additionally, you may be charged a $5,000 fine that is contributed to Colorado’s prostitute enforcement fund.
Prostitute Making Display. This offense is defined as furthering the practice of prostitution in a public place. It is classified as a Class 1 petty offense. As stated above, the punishment is a maximum $500 dollar fine and up to 6 months in jail.
Solicitation of Prostitution. Solicitation is defined as offering prostitution, arranging a meeting place for prostitution, or directing an individual to a location where prostitution is offered. Solicitation is a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by a $50 to $750 dollar fine and up to 6 months in jail. You may also be fined up to $5,000, which will be transferred to the prostitution enforcement fund.
Pandering. Pandering in Colorado is organized into two levels of severity. The first form of pandering is arranging a situation in which a person may practice prostitution. This offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor, with a punishment of $50 to $750 and up to 6 months in jail. The second form of pandering is defined as intimidating an individual into prostitution. This much more serious crime is a Class 5 felony, punishable by up to 1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000 dollars. In addition, those charged with pandering are required to pay an extra fine of $5,000 to $10,000 to the prostitution enforcement fund.
Pimping. The definition of pimping in Colorado is knowingly being supported, in whole or in part, by funds obtained from prostitution. Pimping a very serious crime, regarded as a Class 3 felony. Class 3 felonies are punished by up to 4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of $3,000 to $750,000 dollars.
Keeping a Place of Prostitution. Defined as operating or granting use of a place where prostitution occurs, this charge is a Class 2 misdemeanor with a punishment of 3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $1000.
In addition to the above penalties, those convicted of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute are required by law to submit to an HIV/AIDS test.
Prostitution and the related offenses are serious and stigmatizing crimes that can result in heavy fines and long imprisonment. The long term effects on your criminal record could ruin your life and career. If you have been charged with any of the above offenses, it is critical you contact an attorney with an excellent reputation and aggressive tactics to ensure the best possible outcome for your case.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.