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Public Order Crimes


Prostitution has been a part of human societies for many centuries. While for thousands of years prostitutes were generally thought of as female, by 2000 it was recognized that both female and male prostitutes were active in the trade. Both sell their bodies for money. Almost all customers are male and are known as clients. Frequently a third party—called a pimp if male, a madam if female—will set up the sexual encounter and take a portion of the money exchanged.

Studies show that prostitutes generally enter the profession voluntarily rather than being forced. The chief reasons are for money, often much better money than minimum wage jobs, for survival when there appears no other way to make a living, and for drug money. Prostitutes are often drug abusers. Several types of prostitution exist in the United States.

The most dangerous type of prostitution is streetwalking. Streetwalkers, often dressed in revealing clothing and high heels, stand out as they wait to be picked up by drivers passing by. Streetwalkers are often called hookers. The majority of those arrested for prostitution are streetwalkers. Two other types of prostitutes are bar girls who hang out at bars waiting to be picked up, and call girls. Call girls, who often work for escort services, may have a steady clientele. They are the most highly paid prostitutes often receiving $1,000 or more a night.

A prostitute walking the streets, trying to sell herself for sex. The most dangerous type of prostitution is streetwalking. (© Robert Holmes/Corbis)

The crime of prostitution is a misdemeanor (minor offense) in most states. Those who hire prostitutes may also be arrested on misdemeanor charges. Anyone engaging in promoting prostitution activities, such as a pimp or madam, however, could be charged with felony (major) offenses if arrested. Pimps and madams are charged with felonies because it is likely they have influenced young women or men to engage in prostitution for their own gain.

As previously noted, the only legal prostitution occurs in Nevada in licensed houses of prostitution. These houses or brothels, whether in Nevada or run illegally in other states, are frequently owned and operated by organized crime. Through history these brothels have also been called bordellos, flop houses, cathouses, and "houses of ill repute [reputation]." Madams oversee brothels and the prostitutes who live and work in the house. The money paid for a prostitute's services is split between house owners, the madam, and the prostitute. All other forms of prostitution—streetwalkers, bar girls, and especially call girls—exist in Nevada and elsewhere but are illegal everywhere.

Additional topics

Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationCrime and Criminal LawPublic Order Crimes - Prostitution, Abnormal Sexual Behavior, Pornography, Alcohol And Crime, Driving Under The Influence (dui)