I Was Arrested For Hiring a Prostitute in Arizona – Will I Go To Jail?
Although it is sometimes known as “the world’s oldest profession,” the practice of prostitution is illegal across nearly all of America. Yet while nearly all states ban prostitution, the treatment of “Johns,” or people who hire prostitutes, is far from uniform. This is especially true in Arizona, where soliciting a prostitute is not actually a state crime. With such a legal landscape, what happens after you’re arrested for hiring a prostitute depends largely upon where you happened to have been arrested.
Solicitation in Arizona
Arizona’s sex crimes statutes outlawing prostitution are relatively thorough and specific. For example, not only does Arizona ban the actual act of prostitution (or selling sex for money), it also has laws prohibiting the enticement of customers into brothels or other locations for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, receiving the earnings of a prostitute, and forcing a spouse to engage in prostitution among other activities. However, state law is notably silent on the customers of prostitutes. In most cases, the only state law regarding prostitution a “John” is at risk of violating is the ban on transporting a person for purposes of prostitution. Instead, the State of Arizona has left it up to its local municipalities to create ordinances governing the solicitation of prostitution.
Variety in Arizona’s Solicitation Laws
Because Arizona has chosen to make solicitation a local issue, the law varies from city to city. Here are some examples of how different cities in Arizona address solicitation:
Phoenix has very clear laws prohibiting solicitation, making it a Class 1 misdemeanor. First offenders can expect to receive a minimum of 15 days in jail, as well as a court-ordered education or treatment program; additionally, the judge can impose a fine of up to $2,500 if he or she thinks it’s appropriate. After the first offense, the mandatory jail time starts going up: a minimum of 30 days for second offenders, 60 days for third offenses, and at least 180 days in jail for fourth offenses.
Tucson’s solicitation law is slightly different, instead making it a misdemeanor to be in or near a public place in order to solicit a prostitute. However, the ordinance is silent on solicitation from private places. Penalties are similar to Phoenix in Tucson: the jail time is the same, although fines are mandatory. First offense fines are a minimum of $200, and subsequent offenses carry a minimum fine of $500.
Like Phoenix, Scottsdale has an explicit prohibition on solicitation, making it a misdemeanor. However, the penalty for a first offense is slightly less harsh, with only 10 days of mandatory jail time (as opposed to Phoenix’ 15). Second, third, and fourth offense jail time is the same as Phoenix.
Yuma’s ban on solicitation has not been updated since 1978, and is interesting in that it prohibits solicitation of prostitution anywhere in the city, but only between persons of opposite sexes. Consequently, in Yuma it is not illegal for a woman to solicit a female prostitute, nor for a man to solicit a male prostitute (although the state and local laws against prostitution would still apply to the sex worker). Illegal solicitation in Yuma is punishable by up to 5 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $750.
The City of Flagstaff has no ordinance against solicitation of prostitution. Because the State of Arizona has also chosen not to create anti-solicitation laws, this means it is NOT illegal to solicit a prostitute in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Depending on where in Arizona you’ve been arrested for soliciting a prostitute, you may very well be facing some mandatory jail time. But always remember: you are innocent until proven guilty. The Constitution guarantees you the right to defend yourself against any charges against you, and you’ll need the best defense you can get.
Our criminal defense firm has helped many clients out of similar difficult circumstances all across the State of Arizona, and our attorneys are well-versed in the variations in local laws that might make all the difference in your case. We offer free case consultations, so call us today to schedule your free legal consultation!