Differences Between Prostitution and Escort Services

Many people use the terms “escort service” and “prostitute” interchangeably. But are they really the same thing? Are they similar at all? What are the legal differences between prostitution and escort services?

Our experienced Colorado criminal defense attorneys at WeedenLaw are here to answer your questions and to outline the key differences between a prostitute and an escort.

What is an Escort?

An escort is any person or persons who, for profit, is available to the public for purposes of accompaniment or companionship. In a general sense, it is someone who is paid to spend time with you, whether that be accompanying you to a social gathering, joining you on a date, or anything of the like. 

What is an Escort Service?

An escort service or escort “bureau” is a business that arranges meetings between escorts and escort patrons. To operate within the bounds of the law, escort services or bureaus must meet certain requirements and obtain the proper licensure.

Are Escort Companies Legal?

As briefly mentioned, in order to operate legally, escorts must first acquire a specific license from local licensing authorities. This license makes it legal for a person to accept money or something of value in exchange for their time spent socializing with you. However, note that performing or receiving sexual services is prohibited when it comes to escorting. Providing escort services without a license or providing sexual favors in exchange for money is a crime in most places and may be penalized accordingly.

What is an Escort License? 

Escort licenses are required from local authorities in order to be an escort or to manage an escort bureau or escort service. Any escort service must acquire an individual license for each person associated with or working for the bureau or service. These licenses are only valid within the locality in which they are issued. These licenses allow an individual to:

  • Hold themselves out to the public as an escort service or accept payment as an escort.
  • Manage or conduct an escort bureau.
  • Declare themselves as an escort runner or accept payment as an escort runner.

These licenses are valid for one year from the issuance date and must be renewed at least 45 days before the expiration date. 

What is Prostitution?

Prostitution in Colorado is the performance, offer, or agreement to perform a sexual act in exchange for money, goods, or services with someone who is not that person’s spouse. These sex acts may include vaginal, oral, or anal sex, as well as masturbation. A prostitute is the individual performing the act, while the one receiving the sexual favor is a solicitor of prostitution, sometimes also known as “Johns.” 

In addition to the solicitation of prostitution itself, it is also a crime to say or do anything which promotes prostitution in a public space. One example could be a person working as a prostitute flagging down the driver of a vehicle. Attempting to get the driver’s attention could result in the conviction of “making a display.” There are also laws against pimping (earning money from prostitution), pandering (promoting prostitution), and patronizing or soliciting a prostitute.

Escort Services vs. Prostitution

Escort services and prostitution are both the exchange of goods or services for a person’s time, but it is what is done with that time that determines the classification and therefore, the legality. Someone may legally hire an escort to go on a date with them and engage in conversation, but if the exchange of sexual services is even implied, it becomes the crime of solicitation of prostitution in Colorado

What Are the Penalties for Prostitution?

Prostitution itself is a Class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. It is punishable with up to 6 months jail time and a fine ranging from $50 to $750. “Making a display” is a Class 1 petty offense, which is punishable with up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $500. Patronizing comes with more serious penalties, with up to 18 months in jail and fines ranging anywhere from $500 to $5,000.

What Are Defenses to Prostitution?

There are a few common defenses used for prostitution cases. Our Denver sex crime attorneys at WeedenLaw have outlined these defenses below.

  • There was no actual agreement to an exchange of money, goods, or services for the sexual act.
  • Any money, goods, or services exchanged were not for the sex act.
  • The defendant was falsely accused of prostitution by someone else. This may have been a misunderstanding, or it may have been done out of anger or revenge.
  • The defendant was misidentified to be the true culprit.
  • Police entrapped the defendant into committing the crime of prostitution, even though the act is not typical for the defendant.

Contact Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeff Weeden Today

Understanding the legal differences between prostitution and escort services is essential, as one interpreting one for the other can result in serious consequences. If you believe you have been wrongly accused of prostitution or soliciting prostitution, if there was an issue with your escort license, or if you seek a free consultation with a Denver criminal defense lawyer, contact Jeff Weeden at WeedenLaw today. Our office will help you explore your options and fight to protect your rights and your freedom.

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