Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Prostitution is a crime in the state of Colorado, but if someone is arrested and charged with prostitution, that person may be innocent. People are sometimes arrested for prostitution on the basis of misunderstandings, misidentifications, and even stories that are entirely fabricated.

What is the definition of prostitution in this state? What are the penalties if someone is convicted of prostitution? And if you are charged and prosecuted for the crime, what can you do to defend yourself? How can a Denver sex crimes law firm help?

Colorado makes it against the law for anyone to offer, perform, or agree to perform any of the following acts for money or items of value such as drugs: fellatio, masturbation, cunnilingus, sexual intercourse, or anal intercourse.


Prostitution is classified as a Class Three misdemeanor in Colorado. A conviction for a first prostitution offense in this state is punishable with a fine ranging from $50 to $750 and/or a jail term of up to six months.


However, prostitution while infected with an HIV infection is a Class Five felony, punishable upon conviction by one to three years in prison and/or a fine from $1,000 to $100,000.

If you are a professional in Colorado, you need to know that prostitution is considered a crime of “moral turpitude,” and your licensing board will very likely suspend or revoke your professional license if you are convicted of prostitution or a related crime.

If you are an immigrant in Colorado, you need to know that prostitution is also considered a crime of moral turpitude by the U.S. immigration authorities, which means that a prostitution conviction can cause someone who holds a visa or a green card to be deported from the U.S.


For professionals, immigrants, and many others in our state, pleading guilty to a prostitution charge simply is not an option. If you are charged with prostitution in the state of Colorado, you must reach out for legal help – at once – to an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney.

A good criminal defense lawyer will investigate the charge against you, protect your legal rights, review your options, and help you determine the best way to move forward.

The legal defenses that can be offered against a prostitution charge include:

  • You didn’t offer to perform any illegal sex act for money.
  • You didn’t ask for anything of monetary value in exchange for sex.
  • You are the victim of a misunderstanding, misidentification, or an outright fabrication.
  • You were entrapped by the police, and you broke the law only because of their influence.

A good criminal defense lawyer will craft a defense strategy for you based on the details of your individual case. In some prostitution cases, the police may have had no probable cause to make an arrest. In other cases, the state may have no persuasive evidence of guilt.


To win a conviction, the state has to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, and that can be difficult when the charge is prostitution. In fact, in many of these cases – and especially in cases involving first offenses – a DUI attorney may be able to have the charge dropped.


A diversion program may also be offered to first offenders. If a diversion program is completed successfully, the charge will be dropped, and the defendant can petition the court to seal the arrest record. If the program is not successfully completed, the criminal prosecution will proceed.


In spite of the rumors and legends, there are no legal brothels in Colorado, and prostitution is illegal in every jurisdiction in the state. Brothels and prostitution play a notable and colorful part in the history of the Old West, but they have been illegal in Colorado for more than a century.

handcuffs and law books

That hasn’t stopped the ongoing effort to decriminalize prostitution in Colorado. The Libertarian Party and other groups are conducting ongoing lobbying and petition campaigns to decriminalize prostitution, but no proposals have been introduced to or considered by Colorado’s lawmakers.


As you might imagine, soliciting a prostitute is also against the law in Colorado. Soliciting a prostitute happens when someone:

  • solicits another person to commit an act of prostitution
  • arranges or offers to arrange a meeting for the purposes of prostitution
  • directs another person to a location for the purposes of prostitution

Soliciting a prostitute in Colorado is a misdemeanor. Like prostitution itself, a conviction for a first soliciting offense in this state is punishable with a fine ranging from $50 to $750 and/or a jail term of up to six months.


“Patronizing” a prostitute is a separate crime in Colorado. Patronizing occurs when anyone engages in a sex act with a prostitute or enters and/or remains in a place of prostitution with the intent to engage in a sex act with a prostitute.

Patronizing a prostitute in this state is a Class One misdemeanor. A conviction for a first patronizing offense is punishable with a fine from $500 to $5,000 and/or a jail term of six to eighteen months.


The crime of pimping is classified as a Class Three felony in Colorado. A conviction for a first pimping offense is punishable with a fine from $3,000 to $750,000 and/or a prison term of four to twelve years.

jail fence

A number of other sex crimes are also prosecuted in Colorado, including:

  • indecent exposure
  • unlawful sexual contact
  • sexual assault using force
  • sexual assault using means other than force
  • sexual assault on a child
  • sexual assault by a physician or therapist against a patient
  • sexual assault where the accuser was intoxicated and thus lacked the ability to consent

If you are charged or even suspected of any kind of sex crime, it can be a traumatic, wrenching experience. You must have a good attorney’s help.

If you are charged with prostitution or with any other sex crime in this state, arrange immediately to discuss your case with an experienced Denver domestic violence attorney. A good attorney’s help is your right.

Dan Murphy
By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.