Prostitution is one of the world’s oldest professions, but it is still a criminal act here in North Carolina.
You probably know that. What you might not know, though, is that this is an act that is classified as a sex crime, and as such can carry with it unexpected penalties. In fact, a number of charges that can potentially fall under the umbrella of prostitution in our state required those convicted to register as sex offenders.
To help you avoid making a mistake that could result in your conviction, this post aims to break down the prostitution laws in our state, so you understand what you’re up against.
The Various Prostitution Crimes in North Carolina
We all know that prostitution is the exchange of money or goods for sexual acts, but criminal acts of prostitution in North Carolina go beyond this exchange. The following actions are also crimes that could result in jail time and fines:
Loitering. Loitering is the act of standing or occupying a public place, encouraging others to engage in prostitution. Prostitutes who wait for clients or try and stop cars passing by might face loitering charges regardless of whether they are caught soliciting or not. Speaking of which…
Solicitation. Solicitation has a similar intent. The solicitor is trying to get business. Solicitors may be physically moving from place to place in order to engage in prostitution or may be doing so online.
Patronizing a Prostitute. Clients who engage in sexual acts with a prostitute or enter a “place of prostitution” with this intent can be charged with “patronizing” a prostitute. This charge is dismissed if you engage in these acts with your spouse.
Pandering (“Pimping”). Pimps or “johns” may do the grunt work of finding clients for prostitutes in exchange for a cut of their earnings. A person may also be charged with pimping or pandering if they coerce a person into becoming a prostitute. This charge is also known as “abetting prostitution,” and covers acts including owning “fronts” for prostitution businesses.
Penalties for Prostitution in North Carolina
Depending on your role in the act of prostitution, you may face a wide range of penalties. Most prostitution crimes are class 1 misdemeanors in North Carolina and come with less than 120 days in prison. Penalties may also include mandatory testing for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), community service, or probation.
If you simply “patronize” a prostitute, the charges are mitigated to a class a1 misdemeanor. This charge will still appear on your criminal record.
Charges may be elevated to a felony if the defendant has prior prostitution convictions on their criminal record.
Teachers or licensed professionals in the education field may risk losing their certification if they are convicted of any crime relating to prostitution.
If Children Are Involved
Adult prostitution is a generally a “lesser” crime, but when minors are involved, things get very serious. (Minors themselves cannot be charged with a crime if they are coerced into prostitution. They are sent to protective custody.)
Prostitution with a minor, or promoting prostitution with a minor, is a class C felony crime in North Carolina. Penalties include up to 92 months behind bars for first-time offenders (the sentence may be doubled for defendants with prior convictions). Other penalties may include heavy fines. Defendants who have been convicted of a Class C felony will have six points on their record, which may drastically affect penalties for future convictions.
Oh, and prostitution of a minor will also land you a spot on the North Carolina sex offender registry. Registrants have to provide their personal information to the state, which becomes public. Landlords, employers, and anyone with a desire to search your criminal history will have access to your information and the crimes for which you were convicted.
If you are on the sex offender registry, you will have to report to local law enforcement officers and re-register every few months. Any changes in address will also have to be reported within a timely manner.
Do not brush prostitution charge off. Even if you are only facing a misdemeanor, having a conviction on your record is something that no one wants. Not only is it something that can make many parts of regular life harder, if you are ever charged again, it can potentially make those charges more severe.