Prostitution laws vary by state and can change yearly depending on the actions of state legislators. Click on a state’s name to see its statutes.

Alabama | Alaska | Arizona | Arkansas | California | Colorado | Connecticut | Delaware | Florida | Georgia | Hawaii | Idaho | Illinois | Indiana | Iowa | Kansas | Kentucky | Louisiana | Maine | Maryland | Massachusetts | Michigan | Minnesota | Mississippi | Missouri | Montana | Nebraska | Nevada | New Hampshire | New Jersey | New Mexico | New York | North Carolina | North Dakota | Ohio | Oklahoma | Oregon | Pennsylvania | Rhode Island | South Carolina | South Dakota | Tennessee | Texas | Utah | Vermont | Virginia | Washington D.C. | Washington State | West Virginia | Wisconsin | Wyoming

prostitution laws by state

U.S. PROSTITUTION LAWS STATE TO STATE

U.S. prostitution laws vary from state to state, and legislatures sometimes amend their states’ laws from year to year. If you see any outdated laws in this list of prostitution laws by state, please contact Decriminalize Sex Work using our contact form and provide updated information.

Each state’s entry links to a pdf of the specific regulations, penalties, and related statutes for that state. We want to acknowledge Allen Lichtenstein, an experienced attorney in Las Vegas, for compiling the U.S. prostitution laws for all 50 states.

US prostitution laws

Alabama prostitution laws

Alabama prostitution laws make it a crime to buy or sell sex, attempt to buy or sell sex, make money from prostitution, or assist others with engaging in prostitution.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Alabama Prostitution Laws.

Alabama prostitution laws

Alaska prostitution laws

Alaska prostitution laws make it unlawful for any person to knowingly solicit, induce, entice, invite, or procure another for prostitution. Alaska’s sex trafficking laws are so broad enough to include all forms of sex work including self-employed sex workers.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Alaska Prostitution Laws.

Alaska prostitution laws

Arizona prostitution laws

Arizona prostitution laws strictly forbid prostitution. Sexual contact does not even need to occur for a conviction of either criminal prostitution or criminal solicitation.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Arizona Prostitution Laws.

Arizona prostitution laws

Arkansas prostitution laws

Arkansas prostitution laws expressly forbid both the performance of sexual acts in exchange for compensation and the solicitation of those acts.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Arkansas Prostitution Laws.

Arkansas prostitution laws

California prostitution laws

California prostitution laws have been challenged by some progressive state bills, lawsuits, and local ballot initiatives in recent years. Unfortunately these measures have ultimately left prostitution illegal in the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific California Prostitution Laws.

California prostitution laws

Colorado prostitution laws

Colorado prostitution laws make it a crime to exchange sexual favors or to solicit the purchase of sex. Prostitution is fully illegal throughout the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Colorado Prostitution Laws.

Colorado prostitution laws

Connecticut prostitution laws

Connecticut prostitution laws make it a crime for anyone over 15 years in age to engage in or offer sexual conduct with another person in exchange for any sort of compensation.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Connecticut Prostitution Laws.

Connecticut prostitution laws

Delaware prostitution laws

Delaware prostitution laws make engaging in, agreeing to, or offering to engage in sexual conduct in return for compensation illegal acts. Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor throughout the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Delaware Prostitution Laws.

Delaware prostitution laws

Florida prostitution laws

Florida prostitution laws make buying, selling, offering, soliciting, or agreeing to engage in sexual acts in exchange for favors or compensation illegal acts, provided you are not married to the person you are making the exchange with.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Florida Prostitution Laws.

Florida prostitution laws

Georgia prostitution laws

Georgia prostitution laws make it illegal to offer to perform sexual acts in exchange for money. It is not necessary that the act actually occurs or that money actually exchanges hands.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Georgia Prostitution Laws.

Georgia prostitution laws

Hawaii prostitution laws

Hawaii prostitution laws make sex work illegal, but recent legislative efforts have tried to legalize indoor prostitution.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Hawaii Prostitution Laws.

Hawaii prostitution laws

Idaho prostitution laws

Idaho prostitution laws make it a misdemeanor to pay or offer to pay for sexual favors. The third offense becomes a felony.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Idaho Prostitution Laws.

Idaho prostitution laws

Illinois prostitution laws

Illinois prostitution laws make performing, offering, or agreeing to perform sexual acts in exchange for compensation criminal acts. While normally a misdemeanor, the crime becomes a felony if it occurs within one thousand feet of a school.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Illinois Prostitution Laws.

Illinois prostitution laws

Indiana prostitution laws

Indiana prostitution laws make it illegal to knowingly and intentionally perform, offer, or agree to perform sexual conduct in exchange for money or other compensation.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Indiana Prostitution Laws.

Indiana prostitution laws

Iowa prostitution laws

Iowa prostitution laws make it a misdemeanor to sell or offer for sale sex acts. It is also a crime to purchase or offer to purchase those sexual services anywhere in the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Iowa Prostitution Laws.

Iowa prostitution laws

Kansas prostitution laws

Kansas prostitution laws state that it is illegal to engage in buying sex, selling sex, offering to sell sex, or agreeing to sell sex. It is even a crime to simply visit a sex worker at their place of work.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Kansas Prostitution Laws.

Kansas prostitution laws

Kentucky prostitution laws

Kentucky prostitution laws make prostitution illegal through escort services, massage parlors, and strip clubs throughout the state. It is also a crime to simply benefit from the sex trade.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Kentucky Prostitution Laws.

Kentucky prostitution laws

Louisiana prostitution laws

Louisiana prostitution laws make all forms of sex work illegal across the state. A recent legislative proposal to fully decriminalize prostitution was unsuccessful. The bill would have lifted criminal penalties for a host of prostitution-related offenses.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Louisiana Prostitution Laws.

Louisiana prostitution laws

Maine prostitution laws

Maine prostitution laws make it illegal to sell sexual acts or even sexual contact. Solicitation of those acts is also illegal across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Maine Prostitution Laws.

Maine prostitution laws

Maryland prostitution laws

Maryland prostitution laws make sex work illegal. Recent legislative efforts have made it illegal for officers to engage in sexual acts with anyone in their custody.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Maryland Prostitution Laws.

Maryland prostitution laws

Massachusetts prostitution laws

Massachusetts prostitution laws make it a crime to engage in sexual conduct for any fee. Even entering a place of prostitution is a criminal offense across the state. There is currently a dangerous effort to rebrand the Nordic Model of prostitution (entrapment model) as the Equality Model in an effort to implement this failed system in Massachusetts.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Massachusetts Prostitution Laws.

Massachuseetts prostitution laws

Michigan prostitution laws

Michigan prostitution laws make it illegal to engage in or offer to engage in sexual services with another person for any form of payment or value. Michigan is one of three states to expressly allow police to engage in sex acts with sex workers prior to pressing charges.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Michigan Prostitution Laws.

Michigan prostitution laws

Minnesota prostitution laws

Minnesota prostitution laws make buying sex, selling sexual services, and selling the sexual services of someone else all crimes across the state. Acts of forced prostitution are prosecuted as sex trafficking offenses.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Minnesota Prostitution Laws.

Minnesota prostitution laws

Mississippi prostitution laws

Mississippi prostitution laws say it is illegal to pay for any kind of sexual act. Prostitution, solicitation, and offering the services of a prostitute are all illegal across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Mississippi Prostitution Laws.

Mississippi prostitution laws

Missouri prostitution laws

Missouri prostitution laws prohibit street walking, high-class escorts, and brothels. Soliciting prostitution, offering sexual services, or agreeing to perform sexual services in exchange for money are crimes across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Missouri Prostitution Laws.

Missouri prostitution laws

Montana prostitution laws

Montana prostitution laws prohibit engaging in, agreeing to engage in, or offering to engage in the act of sexual intercourse in exchange for anything of value. Both buying and selling sexual acts are illegal.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Montana Prostitution Laws.

Montana prostitution laws

Nebraska prostitution laws

Nebraska prostitution laws state that engaging in sexual acts in exchange for a fee is a criminal act. Both prostitution and solicitation are illegal across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Nebraska Prostitution Laws.

Nebraska prostitution laws

Nevada prostitution laws

Nevada prostitution laws are the only ones in the country that make prostitution in Nevada fully legal under specific circumstance. Currently there are 21 active brothels in rural parts of the state. Las Vegas prostitution laws make all sex work, including Las Vegas escorts, fully illegal.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Nevada Prostitution Laws.

Nevada prostitution laws

New Hampshire prostitution laws

New Hampshire prostitution laws make sex work illegal throughout the state. Recent legislative efforts attempted to decriminalize sex work in the state. Those efforts were not successful.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific New Hampshire Prostitution Laws.

New Hampshire prostitution laws

New Jersey prostitution laws

New Jersey prostitution laws state that it is a crime to engage in acts of prostitution by offering or accepting to engage in a sexual act in exchange for compensation.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific New Jersey Prostitution Laws.

New Jersey prostitution laws

New Mexico prostitution laws

New Mexico prostitution laws define the crime of prostitution as engaging in or offering to engage in any sex act in exchange for compensation. While it is a crime to either buy or sell sex, only people who sell sex can actually be convicted of prostitution.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific New Mexico Prostitution Laws.

New Mexico prostitution laws

New York prostitution laws

New York prostitution laws have improved over the years with progressive efforts chipping away at the harms of criminalization. More recently there has been a dangerous effort to rebrand the Nordic Model of prostitution (entrapment model) as the Equality Model. Current legislation threatens to implement this failed system within the US.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific New York Prostitution Laws.

New York prostitution laws

North Carolina prostitution laws

North Carolina prostitution laws have remained unchanged since 1919. These laws state that it is a crime to buy, sell, promote, or facilitate any act of prostitution.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific North Carolina Prostitution Laws.

North Carolina prostitution laws

North Dakota prostitution laws

North Dakota prostitution laws make it a crime for an individual to hire, offer, or agree to hire an individual for the purposes of engaging in a sexual act.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific North Dakota Prostitution Laws.

North Dakota prostitution laws

Ohio prostitution laws

Ohio Prostitution Laws already make sex work illegal, but problematic legislation is currently in committee that would increase punitive anti-prostitution measures. These new laws could increase stigmatization and discrimination.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Ohio Prostitution Laws.

Ohio prostitution laws

Oklahoma prostitution laws

Oklahoma prostitution laws make it illegal for any person to buy or sell sex or make compensation for promoting prostitution. Even making an appointment to engage in prostitution is illegal across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Oklahoma Prostitution Laws.

Oklahoma prostitution laws

Oregon prostitution laws

Oregon prostitution laws are currently in committee and may be receiving a full overhaul. The new laws will decriminalize both sale and purchase as well as solicitation and promotion. Compelling prostitution will remain on the books.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Oregon Prostitution Laws.

Oregon prostitution laws

Pennsylvania prostitution laws

Pennsylvania prostitution laws define prostitution as engaging in a sex act as a business venture. Prostitution and the solicitation of prostitution are illegal throughout the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Pennsylvania Prostitution Laws.

Pennsylvania prostitution laws

Rhode Island prostitution laws

Rhode Island prostitution laws allowed legalized indoor prostitution from 1980 to 2009. Those years saw a dramatic improvement in women’s health and safety metrics throughout the state. The state government has outlawed prostitution and imposed enormous penalties since then.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Rhode Island Prostitution Laws.

Rhode Island prostitution laws

South Carolina prostitution laws

South Carolina prostitution laws prohibit the exchange of money or other compensation for sexual acts. Even entering a place or vehicle for the purpose of lewdness is a crime in South Carolina.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific South Carolina Prostitution Laws.

South Carolina prostitution laws

South Dakota prostitution laws

South Dakota prostitution laws make it a crime to either buy or sell sexual services. Prostitution is a misdemeanor in South Dakota.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific South Dakota Prostitution Laws.

South Dakota prostitution laws

Tennessee prostitution laws

Tennessee prostitution laws declare the purchase or sale of sex to be illegal. Additionally, promoting prostitution is a criminal offense across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Tennessee Prostitution Laws.

Tennessee prostitution laws

Texas prostitution laws

Texas prostitution laws make it a crime to knowingly engage in or offer to engage in sexual acts for compensation or to solicit another person for those acts in a public place.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Texas Prostitution Laws.

Texas prostitution laws

Utah prostitution laws

Utah prostitution laws make engaging in, soliciting, or patronizing a prostitute a third degree felony. Even aiding prostitution is illegal across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Utah Prostitution Laws.

Utah prostitution laws

Vermont prostitution laws

Vermont prostitution laws make sex work a crime throughout the state. Progressive legislation was introduced in 2020 which would provide limited criminal immunity to sex workers who report a crime committed against themselves. This legislation has Decriminalize Sex Work’s full support.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Vermont Prostitution Laws.

Vermont prostitution laws

Virginia prostitution laws

Virginia prostitution laws declare that it is a class on1 misdemeanor to offer money for sex or exchange anything for a sexual act. The money is not required to have actually exchanged hands for a crime to have been committed.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Virginia Prostitution Laws.

Virginia prostitution laws

Washington D.C. prostitution laws

Washington D.C. prostitution laws been a topic of focus for Decriminalize Sex Work in recent years. Our Sex Worker and Community Health and Safety Act of 2020 was submitted to the board of Elections, however those efforts have halted for the time being. Prostitution in Washington D.C., including D.C. escorts, continues to be illegal.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Washington D.C. Prostitution Laws.

Washington D.C. prostitution laws

Washington prostitution laws

Washington prostitution laws state that exchanging sex for any item of value is illegal. Soliciting, patronizing, or using a third party to facilitate sexual services are also crimes across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Washington State Prostitution Laws.

Washington prostitution laws

West Virginia prostitution laws

West Virginia prostitution laws prohibit having sex for money, soliciting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, recruiting sex workers, and receiving any sort of support from the sex work of others.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific West Virginia Prostitution Laws.

West Virginia prostitution laws

Wisconsin prostitution laws

Wisconsin prostitution laws make it a crime to pander, solicit, or engage another person in a sexual act in exchange for anything of value. All of those acts are misdemeanors across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Wisconsin Prostitution Laws.

Wisconsin prostitution laws

Wyoming prostitution laws

Wyoming prostitution laws prohibit acts of prostitution, the solicitation of prostitution, and the promotion of prostitution. Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor across the state.

If you would like to learn more, we have compiled this list of specific Wyoming Prostitution Laws.

Wyoming prostitution laws

 

Additional information about local legislative efforts affecting sex workers and trafficking survivors: