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In Pennsylvania and many other states in the country, prostitution is against the law. According to the law, prostitution is defined as performing sexual intercourse or another type of sexual activity for business purposes and to earn money.
What are Pennsylvania’s Prostitution Laws?
As per the law in Pennsylvania, a person can be charged for this crime if they engage in sexual activity to gain money. However, a person can also be charged if they loiter in a public area with the intent of seeking an opportunity to engage in prostitution. A prosecutor can even charge a person who patronizes prostitutes if they enter a brothel or house of prostitution and pay someone to perform sex acts.
In addition to a person working as a prostitute, Pennsylvania’s state law also considers promotion of prostitution as illegal. A person who serves as a pimp, madam, runs a prostitution ring or operates a house of prostitution or brothel or generally hires people to work as prostitutes can also be prosecuted for the crime. This person generally receives part of the earnings of a prostitute.
A person can be found guilty of prostitution if the following is in place:
• The individual is in a house of prostitution or brothel and performs sexual activity in exchange for money and as a business purpose
• The individual loiters in a public place with the intention of picking up people with whom to engage in sexual activity for money
How are Prostitution Offenses Charged in Pennsylvania?
Prostitution offenses can be charged differently depending on the circumstances. For example, if it is the person’s first or second offense, they would be charged with a misdemeanor in the third degree. If the person has committed their third prostitution offense, they are charged with a misdemeanor in the second degree. With a fourth, fifth or subsequent offense, the charge would be a misdemeanor in the first degree. However, a person can be charged with a felony in the third degree if they committed prostitution knowing that they are infected with HIV or have AIDS.
A person found guilty of promoting prostitution can be charged with a misdemeanor in the second degree or as high as a felony in the third degree. A variety of factors can determine how they are charged for the offense.
Possible Defenses Against Prostitution Charges in Pennsylvania
The defendant’s attorney can argue one of two specific defenses in their case. They include the following:
• Entrapment by police
• The sexual activity was not performed for money or business
Penalties and Sentences for Prostitution in Pennsylvania
The state of Pennsylvania has a wide range of penalties and sentences for prostitution. Of course, the severity of the penalties and sentence depends on the person’s criminal history and whether they have prior offenses. A misdemeanor in the third degree carries a maximum one-year prison sentence.
If a person has committed their third prostitution offense, they can be charged with a misdemeanor in the second degree, which includes a prison sentence of up to two years. For a fourth or higher offense, the individual would be charged with a misdemeanor in the first degree and can receive a prison term of up to five years.
However, if the individual engaged in prostitution knowing that they are HIV positive or have AIDS, they can be charged with a felony in the third degree, which carries a maximum prison sentence of seven years. Likewise, a person found guilty of promoting prostitution, operating a brothel or promoting child prostitution can receive a third degree felony charge as well.
Prostitution charges, whether the individual was working as a prostitute, managing a brothel or promoting prostitution, are all serious crimes in the state of Pennsylvania. Anyone who has been arrested and charged with these crimes needs the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney. It can potentially get the charges reduced or dropped.