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District of Columbia Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

Considered one of the oldest professions in the world, the history of prostitution in the United States stems back to the days of the original colonies. Since that time, most states have enacted laws that make engaging in the act of prostitution a crime, as well as the solicitation of prostitution (to solicit a prostitute is to pay for sex or make a proposition to do so). This is a quick summary of the prostitution and solicitation laws in the District of Columbia.

District of Columbia Prostitution and Solicitation Laws: Overview

As with most states, District of Columbia prostitution and solicitation laws provide fines and prison sentences for those who engage in or solicit prostitution. To help combat this crime, District of Columbia law also prohibits inducing or compelling others to engage in prostitution (often referred to as "pimping" or "pandering"), operating a house of prostitution, or forcing a spouse to live a life of prostitution. Property used to facilitate a violation of any of the District of Columbia prostitution and solicitation laws are subject to seizure and forfeiture.

The following table outlines the specifics of District of Columbia's prostitution and solicitation laws.

Code Sections

District of Columbia Official Code §22-2701: Engaging and Soliciting for Prostitution Prohibited

What's Prohibited?

According to Washington, D.C. law, it is unlawful for any person to engage in prostitution or to solicit prostitution.

Prostitution means any sexual act or contact with another person in return for giving or receiving a fee. Soliciting prostitution means to invite, entice, offer, persuade, or agree to engage in prostitution. The District of Columbia also makes arranging for prostitution a crime. This occurs when there is any act to procure or attempt to procure for the purpose of prostitution, regardless of whether the arrangement occurred or a fee was paid.


D.C. prostitution and solicitation laws state that the punishment for a person convicted of prostitution or soliciting for prostitution depends on whether the person convicted has had any prior prostitution and/or solicitation offenses.

  • First Offense: Fined up to $500, imprisoned up to 90 days, or both.
  • Second Offense: Fined up to $1,000, imprisoned up to 180 days, or both.
  • Third and Subsequent Offenses: If not committed on the same occasion, a person convicted of this crime will be fined up to $4,000, imprisoned for up to 2 years, or both.

If you have been accused of violating District of Columbia prostitution or solicitation laws, you can contact a District of Columbia criminal defense lawyer through FindLaw. Visit FindLaw's sections on prostitution, solicitation, and other sex crimes for more articles and information on this topic.

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