Sex Workers / Prostitution Charges in Las Vegas

Much debate surrounds the sex industry in Las Vegas. Nevada remains the only state to allow legal “licensed houses of prostitution.” However, Las Vegas and Clark County Nevada do not allow for licensed houses of prostitution. There are only certain select towns and counties in Nevada that have legalized prostitution. Some argue that allowing legal prostitution in Nevada also invites illegal prostitution rings to flourish. As a result of these fears, law enforcement devotes a good deal of resources to going after sex workers for alleged crimes. Law enforcement also targets illegal prostitution operations to arrest both women and men involved in the following illegal activities:

Local law enforcement officers in the greater Las Vegas area and throughout Clark County, Nevada, use undercover officers in elaborate sting operations to target individuals engaging in prostitution, pandering, sex trafficking, and running illegal brothels. Many of these undercover operations go after escort and massage services that advertise online. These undercover sting operations can target the prostitutes that are paid for their services, the “johns” or customers that solicit the prostitutes or the “madams” or “pimps” that profit from prostitution activities.

Sex workers are targeted by law enforcement because there is a fine line between legal erotic entertainment and illegal sex work. There are many legitimate industries that are targeted for borderline-prostitution activities related to escort and massage services. The stigma attached to these professions causes all sex workers to be placed under an unfair cloud of suspicion. If you work in any job related to the sex industry and you’ve been accused of a crime, then contact an experienced Las Vegas sex crime defense attorney who will fight aggressively to protect your rights.

Las Vegas Sex Worker Defense Attorney

Over the years, Joel Mann has represented individuals charged under Nevada’s prostitution and pandering laws. Contact the Law Office of Joel M. Mann at (702) 474-6266 for a free consultation on how he can help you fight the criminal allegations related to the sex industry.

Sex Worker Definition

A sex worker is a person who works in the sex industry. The term applies to people who are paid to engage in varying degrees of physical contact with clients. There is a very thin line between legal services and illegal services. Sex workers can work in following areas:

  • Escort Services
  • Erotic Modeling
  • Telephone Sex Operators
  • Pornographic Models
  • Adult Video Performers
  • Sex Show Performers
  • Erotic Dancers
  • Private Sex Clubs

The term sex worker is also known as a euphemism for illegal prostitution, but the term sex worker covers a much broader range of legal sexual occupations. Professionally, sex workers also are referred to as erotic service providers or adult sex providers.

Escort Definition

An escort is generally considered a “sex worker” who is not visible to the public, nor does he or she work in a brothel type establishment. Usually, the escorts are employed by an escort agency, but they can also market themselves independently through magazine ads, internet ads or other intermediary sources. Escorts can either visit the client (outcalls) or the client can visit the escort (incalls). Also referred to as “call girls,” escorts’ services are utilized for a variety of reasons including: companionship, attending social events, role-playing, fetish, or sexual gratification. An escort in and of itself is not illegal, however whenever there is a proposition of an exchange of sex for money or an actual exchange of sex for money then you are in the realm of committing a crime.

Under Nevada state law, any county with a population less than 400,000 people is eligible to have licensed brothels. Clark County which includes Las Vegas has no licensed brothel, therefore prostitution is illegal in Las Vegas.

The other Nevada counties that prohibit brothels are Carson City County, Douglas County, and Washoe County. Eureka County actually has no laws on the books either permitting or prohibiting legal brothels so no brothels are currently located there.

The following counties are eligible to have licensed brothels:

  • Churchill County
  • Elko County
  • Esmeralda County
  • Humboldt County
  • Lander County
  • Lincoln County
  • Lyon County
  • Mineral County
  • Nye County
  • Storey County

These counties can legally have brothels. In order to operate within the law, the brothels must follow a complicated scheme of ordinances and regulations. The regulations are based on county and state law. Restrictions in these ordinances can include:

  • Workers must submit to regular HIV and STD testing;
  • Condoms and other safe-sex practices must be used in the brothel;
  • Brothels cannot be located near schools;
  • Brothels cannot be located near churches;
  • Brothels cannot be advertised in counties that prohibit prostitution; and
  • Legal adults are the only ones that can work in the brothel.

Currently, approximately twenty-four (24) brothels operate in eight (8) Nevada counties. Many of these brothels advertise their services online through computer websites.

Arrested for Advertising Prostitution in Nevada

Under NRS 201.430, it is an offense to advertise a house of prostitution not licensed for that purpose in any county, city or town where prostitution is prohibited by local ordinance or where the licensing of a house of prostitution is prohibited by Nevada’s statutory scheme. Even where brothels are legal, there are strict advertising requirements. In the counties where the sale of sexual services is permitted, brothels cannot advertise in any public theater, on the public streets or on any public highway.

First amendment and free speech challenges are raised in many of these cases involving a ban on advertising prostitutes or services generally viewed as “sex work.” Brothels are banned from advertising in all counties where the sale of sexual services is prohibited by local ordinance or state statute. In some counties the police aggressively prosecute people who advertise. The rampant advertising on the Las Vegas strip and brothels are banned by city ordinance and state statute, although law enforcement officers selectively enforce those bans.

Some people argue that illegal advertising goes largely unchecked in Las Vegas, while other places like Reno and Carson City enforce the ban on advertising with harsh penalties. The penalties for unlawful advertising depend on whether it is a first, second or subsequent offense. Punishments for illegally advertising prostitution activities can range from fines to jail time.

Beware that there are several undercover agents operating in Las Vegas. If you are commissioned to pass out flyers, make sure that the fliers are not for licensed brothels in other areas. It is a crime to advertise licensed brothels in areas in Nevada where licensed brothels are prohibited. Contact a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer if you have been arrested for illegal advertising practices related to the sex industry in Las Vegas.

Sting Operations in Clark County

A sting operation is “a complicated confidence game planned and executed with great care by undercover agents to apprehend criminals.” Stings are used in law enforcement to capture people involved in a variety of criminal activity such as drug trafficking, sexual exploitation, white collar crime, and fraud.

On the Las Vegas strip, there are sting operations that occur routinely to capture people engaged in criminal activity such as defrauding a casino, sex trafficking, prostitution, solicitation, and pandering. The goal for any sting operation is to target serious criminals to deter the criminal activity. Undercover police officers may pose as prostitutes to arrest someone for solicitation or they may pose as potential customers to raid illegal prostitution activities. Often times, the prosecution will rely solely on the officer’s testimony to get a conviction. Your best option to fight the allegations often requires obtaining an experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorney early in the case.

The Entrapment Defense in Prostitution Cases in Las Vegas, NV

Under Nevada law, the definition of entrapment includes circumstances in which an individual is induced or persuaded by law enforcement to commit a crime that he or she had not intended to commit. Public policy forbids a conviction in entrapment cases. To prove an entrapment defense, you must show:

  • The idea for committing the crime came from the government agents and not from the person accused of the crime;
  • The government agents then persuaded or talked the person into committing the crime; and
  • The person was not ready and willing to commit the crime before the government agents spoke with the person accused of the crime.

Legitimate vs. Illegitimate Erotic Entertainment

Numerous legitimate erotic entertainment businesses operate in Las Vegas, Clark County, NV. Unfortunately, law enforcement targets erotic entertainment under the assumption that some of them could be fronts for illegal activity.

A list of legitimate erotic entertainment business in Clark County ordinances are as follows:

  • 8.32 Escort Services
  • 7.08 Massage Establishments
  • 6.170 Adult Night Clubs
  • 6.160 Erotic Dance Establishments
  • 6.140 Outcall Entertainment

Due to the risk of being arrested or losing their licenses, business owners should never engage in or permit any form of prostitution or other illegal activity in their establishment. Even though there are a number of erotic entertainment businesses that comply with all the city and state regulations, law enforcement continually harasses these businesses due to the misconception that sex workers are engaged in illegal activity. If you have been arrested or accused of a crime, the best thing to do is hire an experienced criminal defense attorney who will protect your rights.

Unlicensed Massage in Las Vegas

The problem of unlicensed massage is two-fold in Las Vegas. First of all, unlicensed massage is often viewed as a front for prostitution or other alleged illegal activities. Law enforcement often arrests women for performing sexual favors (often referred to as a “happy ending”) during a massage, sensual massage, erotic massage, or body rub. The second problem is that unlicensed or unlawful massage activities sully the reputation of licensed and respectable therapeutic massage businesses. The general perception remains that certain massage parlors offer sexual favors for an extra fee. City ordinances expressly forbid any form of prostitution in massage parlors.

Under Las Vegas Municipal Code 6.52.040, the legislation requires a valid license in order to work and operate a massage parlor. Detailed regulations determine how a licensed massage parlor should be operated. Some of the regulations for massage parlors in Las Vegas are as follows:

  • Business hours should stay between 8am-9pm unless there is a special exemption;
  • List of services along with the cost should be available and visible on the premises;
  • All employees should wear non-transparent clothes that do not reveal specified anatomical areas or the chest area;
  • All massage therapists must have a valid license from the Nevada State Board of Massage pursuant to NRS 640C.450;
  • No alcoholic beverages should be permitted or consumed on the premises;
  • A massage cannot be given unless the customer’s specified anatomical areas are fully covered with a non-transparent garment;
  • There cannot be any two-way mirrors in massage establishments; and
  • Massage parlors must adhere to all the building codes, fire safety regulations, and public safety regulations in Clark County

Licensed massage parlors tend to strictly enforce the above rules because violation of these regulations will result in the massage parlor losing its license to operate. Law enforcement officers are trained to look for red flags when monitoring massage parlors such as parlors that are open late and parlors that “welcome special massage requests.” These red flags often indicate to law enforcement officers that the massage parlors allow illegal activity.

Under Las Vegas Municipal Code 6.25.120: “It is unlawful for any person licensed as a massage therapist to touch or massage the genitals of a male or female client or massage the breast or areolas of a female client or customer.”

Another aspect of unlicensed massage is “outcall girls” who travel to customers and perform massages in hotel rooms or in a person’s home.

Under Las Vegas Municipal Code 6.52.130, “any licensed massage establishment may dispatch a licensed massage therapist to administer a massage to a client at the client’s temporary or permanent residence or at the client’s place of business.”

The general rule in Las Vegas is that outcall services in the phone book are not licensed massage. Usually, these individuals are in an industry called “outcall entertainment” which means that they will visit a patron for the purpose of entertainment. The outcall entertainment industry is very hard to monitor and has several risk and hazards for both the patron and the entertainer.

Online Advertising and Prostitution

Over the past several years, there has been a crackdown on online advertising for erotic services. Craigslist.org was the prime example of prostitutes masquerading as a “companion,” or “massage.” Due to the accusations of online sex trafficking, Craigslist permanently shut down the adult services section of their website. There are a number of other websites that provide advertising for adult services. Backpage.com is one such website where people post adult advertisements. For example, LasVegas.Backpage.com/Adult contains ads that may be considered borderline prostitution along with escort services and sensual massages. Law enforcement often uses these ads to set up sting operations to arrest prostitutes, alleged prostitution customers, or sex traffickers.

Solicitation / Prostitution in Casinos

Casinos and hotels are not allowed to harbor prostitutes. Historically, casinos and hotels allowed prostitutes to operate freely because the call girls and “casino hustlers” kept high rollers playing in the casinos and utilizing the hotel rooms. Law enforcement has come down hard on casinos and hotels that allow prostitutes to solicit customers on their premises.

Even with added police pressure, prostitutes and “casino companions” still loiter in hotels and casino. Usually, the prostitutes are women, but there are an increasingly large number of male prostitutes operating in Las Vegas. Law enforcement officers, many of them working undercover, will look for the following characteristics when looking for alleged prostitution activity:

  • An “attractive” individual sitting at a bar or lounge alone;
  • The attire of the “attractive” woman sitting alone (provocative or revealing);
  • An individual usually very eager to dance or talk;
  • The conversation is centered completely on you;
  • The person does not reveal information about herself or himself; and
  • The person asks if you’re involved with law enforcement.

Casino and hotel security guards monitor women and men who appear to be aimlessly waiting around, and they are required to politely ask them to leave. It can be problematic for legal escorts especially because a client may pay for someone to accompany them to the casino. Escorts, exotic dancers and other sex workers can be unfairly banned from casinos and even arrested for allegedly engaging in prostitution. Often times, prostitution is difficult to prove so law enforcement will arrest suspects for other crimes, such as trespassing. If you’ve been arrested or accused of a crime, it’s essential to contact a Las Vegas criminal defense attorney to defend you against these allegations.

Sex Tourism in Nevada

Las Vegas is a popular place for sex tourism because adult entertainment is heavily promoted. Numerous erotic clubs and shows in Las Vegas feature semi-nude dancers and entertainers. These clubs are classified under adult entertainment and offer dancers, sex shows and other forms of erotic entertainment.

Even though Las Vegas has the famous slogan, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas” make sure you exercise caution and avoid breaking the law. The dark side of sex tourism is that increasingly people under the age of 18 are being recruited, kidnapped, or enslaved into the sex trade. Law enforcement is cracking down on human sex trafficking and tourists who knowingly break the law or engage in any sexual activity with an underage person.

Be very careful when partaking in all that Las Vegas has to offer because you want to enjoy yourself without running afoul of the law. Especially in Las Vegas, there are scams called “trick rolls” where an attractive girl will find a vulnerable tourist who is willing to take her to his hotel room only to be robbed. A good rule of thumb is not to agree to pay for any “sexual gratification.”

Resources

  • Sex Workers Outreach Project – SWOP-USA is a national social justice network dedicated to the fundamental human rights of sex workers and their communities, focusing on ending violence and stigma through education and advocacy.
  • Sin City Alternative Professionals’ Association – Las Vegas chapter of SWOP-USA, the SCAPA acts to create a warm and caring environment in which those who choose to perform erotic work may advance their skills, knowledge, and safety in a healthy way while encouraging a sense of pride in their work.
  • Sex Work Awareness – The SWA is a non-profit organization that believes all sex workers have a right to self-determination; to choose how they make a living and what they do with their bodies. They conduct research about sex workers and the sex industry in order to better understand it, develop public education initiatives, and advocate for the rights of sex workers.
  • Global Network of Sex Work Projects – The NSWP influences policy and builds leadership among sex workers and it facilitates the development of regional and national networks of sex workers and sex work projects.
  • Sex Workers Anonymous – 12 Step Group for Men & Women with a desire to quit the sex industry.
  • Prostitution Research and Education – PRE is a nonprofit organization that conducts research on prostitution, pornography, and trafficking, and offers education and consultation to researchers, survivors, the public, and policymakers.
  • End Child Prostitution and Trafficking – The ECPT works to protect the rights of all children to grow up free from sexual exploitation.
  • Nevada Coalition Against Sex Trafficking – The NCAST is a non-governmental, nonprofit organization who’s mission is to educate people about the harms of prostitution and trafficking in Nevada, ensure services are available for women escaping prostitution and trafficking, and affect public policy on prostitution and trafficking.
  • Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department – Vice Bureau – The LVMPD Vice section is responsible for investigating vice-related crimes, including arresting and prosecuting prostitutes, their clients, and pandering suspects. The Vice section also investigates human trafficking cases involving commercial sex.

Law Office of Joel M. Mann | Las Vegas Sex Worker Defense Attorney

Law Office of Joel M. Mann has dealt with all categories of sex offenses in Nevada. Joel will guide you through this trying time and help you defend yourself against all levels of accusations. By hiring an experienced Las Vegas criminal lawyer that will protect your rights. If you have been arrested for a prostitution-related crime, then contact Joel Mann at (702) 474-6266 for a free consultation.