Under North Carolina law, there are a number of criminal statutes that make it illegal to buy and sell sex or to promote or facilitate prostitution. These crimes can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony with punishments that include jail time. In addition, a conviction can have long-term consequences on your personal relationships as well as result in a permanent criminal record.
Prostitution: The Crime and Penalties
The prostitution laws in North Carolina were rewritten in 2013 after remaining unchanged since 1919. Under the current law, prostitution is defined as performing, offering, or agreeing to perform vaginal intercourse, any sexual act, or any sexual contact for the purpose of sexual or another gratification for money or other consideration. It is illegal to willfully engage in prostitution. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a punishment of between 1 and 120 days depending on the person’s prior criminal record. If the person has no prior conviction, he cannot be sentenced to more than a 45-day sentence of community service.
When an individual has never been convicted of or placed on probation for prostitution, he may have another option. He may be able to plead guilty to the crime and be placed on probation for 12 months. If he completes his sentence, the case would be dismissed as a conditional dismissal that is not treated as a conviction. A person is only allowed a conditional dismissal of a conviction for prostitution once. There are strict requirements for this type of probation, such as not possessing a firearm, submitting to random drug testing, and attending at least 10 counseling sessions in a program approved by the court.
Other Prostitution Offenses and Penalties
There are a number of other serious prostitution crimes in North Carolina. Some of them include:
- Solicitation of prostitution. It is a crime to solicit another for prostitution. There only needs to be an agreement to or offer to engage in sexual conduct for money or other consideration. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense and a Class H felony for any subsequent offense. The sentence for a misdemeanor conviction is similar to that of prostitution. The punishment for a Class H felony is between 4 and 25 months and can include jail time.
- Patronizing a prostitute. A person can be charged with this offense for willfully engaging in vaginal intercourse, sexual act, or sexual conduct with a person who is not his spouse or entering, or remaining in a place of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in one of these acts. A first offense is an A1 misdemeanor with a sentence of between 1 and 150 days. Subsequent offenses would be charged as a Class G felony, and the punishment would be between 8 and 31 months.
- Promoting prostitution. This offense involves willfully advancing or profiting from prostitution. This can include soliciting another person for prostitution, arranging or offering to arrange a meeting of individuals for prostitution, directing a person to a place known for prostitution, and using the Internet—including social media sites—to solicit prostitution. It is also illegal to keep a place of prostitution. For a first offense, this is a Class F felony, and the sentence range is between 10 and 41 months, which can include a prison sentence. If this is a subsequent prostitution charge, the offense is a Class E felony, and the sentence range increases to 15 to 63 months.
- Child prostitution. If a person over 18 years old solicits a minor for prostitution, it is a Class G felony with a sentence of between 8 and 31 months. When an individual patronizes a minor for prostitution, the offense is a Class F felony and upon conviction could face a sentence between 10 and 40 months that may include time in jail or prison. In addition, a person may be required to register on the sex offender registry.
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