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Laws on Prostitution in Indiana

Some individuals may be wondering, “is prostitution legal in Indiana?” Well, the answer is no. Prostitution in Indiana is a highly illegal act and could result in serious criminal penalties for all parties involved. Furthermore, those charged with prostitution or solicitation in Indiana often face an array of collateral consequences that have the potential to negatively impact their employment status, personal relationships, and reputation in the community.

If you are currently facing charges of prostitution, solicitation, or the promotion of prostitution in Indiana, it’s vital that you understand the gravity of the situation and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. This will better ensure that everything is being done to limit the potential damage to your reputation and livelihood, and that you’re in a strong position to secure the optimal outcome in the case against you.

If you’d like to speak with an experienced Indiana criminal defense lawyer today, do not hesitate to contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our Indianapolis-based law firm is led by two former deputy prosecutors who understand how these types of cases are handled by the prosecution and which defense strategies are most effective, given the specific circumstances of the situation.

Looking for a Criminal Defense Attorney in Indiana? Call Keffer Hirschauer LLP Today.

Prostitution, Solicitation and the Promotion of Prostitution in Indiana

The laws specifically addressing the criminal act of prostitution in Indiana, as well as public indecency, public nudity, voyeurism, and revenge porn, can be found in Indiana Code 35-45-4. Under this chapter of the law, criminal acts related to prostitution are divided into three separate offenses: prostitution, unlawful proposition (often referred to as solicitation), and the promotion of prostitution (often referred to as pimping). Under some circumstances, prostitution and unlawful proposition are considered felony offenses, however, certain enhancing circumstances must apply. Promoting prostitution, on the other hand, is always a felony offense in Indiana, and if the person who was enticed or compelled to become a prostitute is under the age of 18, could result in Level 4 felony charges.

Indiana Law on Prostitution

As clearly stated in Indiana Code 35-45-4-2, when a person who is at least 18 years old knowingly or intentionally:

  • performs, or offers or agrees to perform, sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct;
  • fondles, offers to or agrees to fondle, the genitals of another person;

for money or other property, they commit an act of prostitution. At the lowest level, prostitution in Indiana is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a potential penalty of 0-365 days in prison and a fine of up to $5,000. However, if the offender has two prior, but unrelated convictions for prostitution, they may be charged with a Level 6 felony. Per the Indiana sentencing guidelines, a conviction of this level could result in a criminal sentence of up to 2.5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Indiana Law on Solicitation

When a person engages the services of a prostitute, a provider of erotic massage, or an escort in Indiana, they can be arrested charged with unlawful proposition, or what is more commonly referred to as solicitation. As defined in Indiana Code 35-45-4-3, unlawful proposition occurs when someone offers, agrees to, or actually pays or trades property to another person in exchange for engaging in sexual conduct. For first- or second-time offenders, this offense is considered to be a Class A misdemeanor. However, those with two prior but unrelated convictions for unlawful proposition may be charged with a Level 6 felony.

It’s important to note that Indiana’s law on solicitation explicitly states that the consent of the victim is not an adequate defense for a defendant’s actions. On top of that, the law also states that it is not an adequate defense that the intended victim of the offense was a law enforcement officer. In other words, if a person was caught soliciting an undercover police officer, they may still be charged with unlawful proposition in Indiana.

Indiana Law on Promoting Prostitution

When someone engages in the act of being a “pimp,” or “madam,” they risk being charged with promoting prostitution in Indiana. Under Indiana Code 35-45-4-4, the promotion of prostitution occurs when a person entices or compels another person to become a prostitute; procures a prostitute for another person; or receives compensation or property from a prostitute via an act of prostitution. Furthermore, a person who controls a place where the services of prostitutes may be utilized, or who directs a person to dwelling for the purpose of prostitution, could be charged with promoting prostitution as well.

In Indiana, most individuals charged with promoting prostitution will face Level 5 felony charges. If convicted, this could result in serious criminal penalties, including a sentence of 1-6 years in prison and fines of up to $10,000. However, those charged with the promotion of a prostitute who is under the age of 18, may be charged with a Level 4 felony. If convicted, the offender will be required to register as a sex offender in Indiana and could face a sentence of up to 12 years in prison.

Defense Strategies for Those Charged with Solicitation, Promotion, or Prostitution in Indiana

Those arrested and charged with solicitation, promotion, or prostitution in Indiana often feel hopeless and resign themselves to the highest potential penalties under Indiana law. However, there’s no need to feel this way, especially in the days immediately following an arrest. With the help of a skilled criminal defense or sex crimes attorney in Indiana, a defendant may be able to deploy a creative, sound defense or pursue an alternative legal avenue that could result in minimal criminal penalties, reduced charges, or see their case dismissed altogether.

Possible Defense for Soliciting Escorts in Indiana 

While the potential penalties associated with a first- or second-time arrest for the solicitation of a prostitute in Indiana may not seem life-altering, it’s important to remember that the collateral consequences may prove to be quite damaging. Those arrested for solicitation often experience damage to both their professional and personal reputations, and risk certain undesirable outcomes, like job loss or divorce; or issues with professional licensure or child custody.

To avoid such consequences, and limit potential criminal penalties, the best course of action would be to hire a criminal defense attorney in Indiana who has experience handling cases of this nature. Most often, when defending a client against charges of solicitation or purchasing an erotic massage in Indiana, an experienced defense attorney would seek to craft a defense strategy arguing one of three things: entrapment, lack of evidence, or mistake.

  • Entrapment: In cases where law enforcement forced an individual to commit a crime that they never intended to engage in, entrapment could be a successful defense. Regarding solicitation, entrapment can occur when police or other law enforcement officers use persuasion or other means (such as posing as an escort) likely to cause you to engage in illegal conduct that you otherwise were not predisposed to engage in. However, as stated in Indiana Code 35-41-3-9, “conduct merely affording a person an opportunity to commit the offense does not constitute entrapment.” 
  • Lack of Evidence: As in all criminal cases, a lack of evidence to successfully charge you with a crime is an effective defense. For example, if you spoke with an escort in Indiana but never agreed to or offered payment (verbally, in writing, or by bodily gesture) for sexual activity, there may be insufficient evidence to prove beyond reasonable doubt that you made an unlawful proposition. 
  • Mistake: While it seems outlandish, it is not unheard of for mistakes to happen when it comes to arresting and charging someone with solicitation. For example, someone may offer a ride to a person they believe to be stranded or in need of help, only to find out the person is a prostitute. If this sort of situation applies to your case, you may have a solid defense. 

Possible Defense for Prostitution in Indiana

In order to successfully convict an individual for prostitution, the prosecution must prove several elements of the alleged crime. As provided by Indiana Code 35-45-4-2, the prosecution must first prove that the defendant engaged in an act of prostitution by selling sexual conduct and that a financial arrangement was communicated to the person who solicited the sexual conduct. Once that has been demonstrated, the prosecution must then prove that both parties agreed to the transaction.

To combat the prosecution’s argument, a criminal defense attorney may attempt to demonstrate that the prosecution’s case is based on circumstantial evidence of intent or behavior; or, in situations involving an undercover police officer, may argue that the defendant was entrapped and would not have engaged in the conduct had the undercover officer not been so aggressive in encouraging the activity.

Finally, a defendant who is under the age of 18 or is a victim of human trafficking may not be charged with prostitution in Indiana. Given this, a defense attorney may work to prove the age of their underage client or seek to demonstrate that they are a victim of human trafficking.

Possible Defense for Promoting Prostitution in Indiana

Criminal charges stemming from the promotion of prostitution are quite serious and may result in criminal penalties that completely alter one’s life. On top of that, those charged with the promotion of prostitution charges are often charged with other, associated crimes, like money laundering or human trafficking, which could lead to even harsher penalties.

Given the seriousness of the potential penalties, a person who has been arrested and charged with the promotion of prostitution in Indiana would be wise to enlist the service of an experienced Indiana defense attorney who can take an in-depth look at their case and deploy a creative, sound defense aimed at securing the optimal outcome in the case against them. Typically, a defense attorney tasked with building a defense for a defendant charged with the promotion of prostitution would attempt to identify improper actions taken by law enforcement, weak points in the prosecution’s case, or any other facts that may demonstrate their client’s innocence.

If you’ve been charged with an offense related to prostitution in Indiana, and aren’t sure what to do, the Indianapolis criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are available to be your advocate and protector. Although our firm is based in Central Indiana, we routinely represent Hoosiers all throughout the state. We have a strong understanding of the various courts throughout Indiana and possess the professional experience needed to best anticipate how the prosecution may approach a prostitution-related case.

To speak with a criminal defense or sex crimes lawyer today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

Laws on Prostitution in Indiana
Article Name
Laws on Prostitution in Indiana
This article addresses the various laws on prostitution in Indiana and possible defense strategies for those charged with such offenses; including solicitation and the promotion of prostitution.
Publisher Name
Keffer Hirschauer LLP

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