Prostitution Laws

In the District of Columbia, engaging in prostitution and soliciting for prostitution are illegal under DC Code Section 22-2701. The information provided below is a brief overview of the DC prostitution laws. It is not a substitute for the experience and knowledge of a prostitution attorney in DC. To learn how a DC prostitution lawyer can help, visit this page.

In the District of Columbia engaging in prostitution and soliciting for prostitution are illegal.An individual convicted of prostitution or soliciting for prostitution faces different penalties depending on the number of prior prostitution offenses:

  • First offense carries a penalty of a fine up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
  • Second offense: a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail.
  • Two+ prior offenses: a fine up to $12,500 and/or up to two years in jail.

Prostitution-Free Zones Section 22-2731

In the District of Columbia, the Chief of Police may declare a public area as a “prostitution free zone” for a period of time (up to 480 consecutive hours).

If an individual is found to be attempting to commit a prostitution-related offense, with a particular focus on whether the individual is trying to entice passers-by and people in vehicles to engage in prostitution, then the individual faces a penalty of a fine up to $1,000 and/or up to six months in jail.

Abducting or Enticing Child for Purposes of Prostitution Section 22-2704

However, apart from the crime of prostitution there are very serious ramifications and crimes associated with the practice of human trafficking for purposes of prostitution.

For instance, it is illegal for an individual to convince, allure, or kidnap a child from the child’s home or from the child’s parents or guardian. An individual who does may be guilty of abducting or enticing child for purposes of prostitution. Section 22-2704(a)(1).

An individual who harbors a child who has been persuaded or kidnapped from the child’s home or parents or guardian is also guilty of this crime. Section 22-2704(a)(2).

If an individual is convicted of abducting or enticing a child for purposes of prostitution or harboring such a child the penalty (aside from the felony conviction) is a fine up to $50,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. Section 22-2704(b).

Inducing or Compelling an Individual to Engage in Prostitution Section 22-2705

An individual is guilty of this crime if the individual in any way (whether through coercion, persuasion, or physical transportation) puts someone under the care of another person or brothel in order to have that person engage in prostitution. Section 22-2705(a)(1).

An individual is also guilty of this crime if they cause a person to stay, or attempt to make someone stay, in a place where the person will engage in prostitution. Section 22-2705(a)(2).

An individual will also be guilty of this crime if they abduct or keep a person against that person’s will with intent to force or coerce the person into marrying either the abductor or a separate individual. Section 22-2705(a)(3).

Furthermore, an individual is guilty of this crime if the individual is a parent, guardian, or otherwise has legal custody of a person and that parent or guardian consents to the person being used for the purpose of prostitution or sexual acts or sexual contact. Section 22-2705(b).

If an individual is convicted of any variant of this crime (discussed in the three paragraphs above), the individual faces the penalty of a felony conviction with a fine of up to $12,500 and/or up to five years in prison. Section 22-2705(c)(1).

If an individual is convicted of inducing or compelling an individual to engage in prostitution and the victim is under 18 years of age, then the individual faces a felony conviction with a fine up to $50,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. Section 22-2705(c)(2).

Compelling an Individual to Life of Prostitution Against His/Her Will Section 22-2706

Similar to the crimes discussed above, DC Code Section 22-2706 states that it is illegal to make someone be a prostitute against their will.

An individual is guilty of this crime if the individual, for the purpose of prostitution or sexual acts/contact, uses threats and/or duress to keep a person against that person’s will or if the individual, with the same purpose, makes a person reside with the individual against that person’s will. Section 22-2706(a).

If an individual is guilty of this crime the individual faces a felony conviction with a fine of up to $37,500 and/or up to 15 years in prison. Section 22-2706(b)(1).

As with other prostitution-related crimes, if an individual guilty of this crime has compelled a victim who is younger than 18, then the individual faces a felony conviction with up to a $50,000 fine and/or up to 20 years in prison. Section 22-2706(b)(2).

Procuring; Receiving Money or Valuables for Arranging Assignation Section 22-2707

DC Code Section 22-2707 states that it is illegal for an individual to receive any money (or other object of value) in exchange for arranging for a person to perform sexual acts, sexual contact, or prostitution. Section 22-2707(a).

If an individual is guilty of receiving money for arranging assignation, then the individual faces a felony conviction with up to $12,500 in fines and/or up to five years in prison. Section 22-2707(b)(1). However, if the individual is guilty of arranging prostitution and the person caused to engage in prostitution is under 18 years of age, then the individual faces a felony conviction with a fine of up to $50,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison. Section 22-2707(b)(2).

How a DC Prostitution Attorney Can Help

Prostitution, solicitation, and receiving money for arranging such activities are all serious crimes in DC punishable by jail or prison time and costly fines.