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  • Blurry Line Between Escort Services and Prostitution

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    Blurry Line Between Escort Services and ProstitutionIt’s been said that prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. But despite recent public discourse that favors decriminalizing “sex work,” prostitution remains a crime in New Mexico. On the other hand, escort services are not illegal per se. But since these two enterprises are so similar, it can be very difficult to see or fully understand the difference between the two.

    If the State has charged you with prostitution, soliciting prostitution, or a similar criminal offense, you need a criminal defense team who knows what it takes to be successful. We have over two decades of experience fighting to protect our client’s rights at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices. We will pursue justice relentlessly because clearing your name is our first priority. Contact our office today to learn more about the help we can provide.

    Escort Services vs. Prostitution

    There is a line between paying for an escort to provide companionship and buying sex from a prostitute. But it can be a very fine line, and to understand it, we should discuss the differences between escorts and prostitutes. 

    What Are Escort Services?

    It can be hard for some people to wrap their minds around, but escort services are legitimate businesses. When you use an escort service, you are buying time from a woman (or man) for the purpose of companionship. For instance, if someone has to attend a function where bringing a date is expected, they might feel uncomfortable attending alone. Maybe the person doesn’t want the complications of an actual date, so they can legally call an escort service to hire someone to accompany them to the soiree. This can save them the embarrassment of going solo or having to deal with romantic complications when they’d prefer to simply attend the function and leave it at that. This is all perfectly legal. 

    So where is the line? Put simply, you can legally pay for a date, but you cannot legally pay for sex. 

    Blurry Line

    But what about a situation where you hire an escort as a date, but you and the escort are attracted to one another? Suppose you end up in bed together after the date you paid for. Is this prostitution? This is where the line can get very blurry. 

    Essentially, you could engage in sexual activity with an escort as long as no money or other consideration changes hands and the encounter is entirely consensual. Transferring money or something of value for the purpose of engaging in sex with the escort turns a legal service into an illegal one—because buying sex in New Mexico is unlawful. 

    What Is Prostitution?

    According to New Mexico prostitution laws, prostitution is engaging in or offering to engage in a sexual act for hire. The definition of sexual acts includes sexual intercourse, oral intercourse, anal intercourse, masturbation of another, or penetrating the genital or anal opening of another, no matter how slight, with any object. The law specifically states that emission is not required to complete the crime.


    Prostitution is a petty misdemeanor if it’s your first offense. The punishment for petty misdemeanors in New Mexico is six months in jail, a $500 fine, or both. A second or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor. A misdemeanor conviction could send you to jail for up to one year and cost you $1,000 in fines.

    A person who solicits sex for a fee (a.k.a. “John”) also commits a crime. New Mexico law refers to soliciting sex as patronizing prostitutes. Patronizing prostitutes involves either:

    • Entering a brothel (house of prostitution) with the intent to have sex with a prostitute; or
    • Hiring or offering to hire a person believed to be a prostitute to engage in a sex act.

    A first conviction for this crime is a petty misdemeanor. A second or subsequent offense is a misdemeanor. 

    Promoting Prostitution

    Although some might think that an escort service promotes prostitution, a legitimate escort service does no such thing. It only facilitates dates, not sex.

    Promoting prostitution, or pimping is a fourth-degree felony, which carries a sentence of 18 months in prison. According to New Mexico law, promoting prostitution is a crime if a person knowingly:

    • Establishes a house of prostitution;
    • Leases or rents any premises with the intent to run a brothel;
    • Procures a prostitute to work in a brothel;
    • Induces a person to become a prostitute;
    • Solicits patrons for prostitutes;
    • Procures a prostitute for a patron and derives a fee from that service;
    • Provides transportation for someone who will engage in prostitution;
    • Using threats, promises, or fraud to induce someone to enter or leave the state to engage in prostitution; or
    • Detaining a person under the pretense of marriage to enter or leave the state to engage in prostitution.

    Human trafficking is a form of promoting prostitution, and this offense draws the attention of both state and federal prosecutors.

    Prostitution Defenses in New Mexico

    The best defense depends on the facts of your particular case. At New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we carefully examine your case to determine which defenses will work best. We rely on our extensive experience, skill, and meticulous attention to detail to find the best legal strategy for you.


    Most of our clients think entrapment is their best defense, and sometimes they’re right. Entrapment occurs when a police officer or agent induces a person to commit a crime the person was not predisposed to commit. Investigators walk a fine line when investigating prostitution rings. Officers acting as either call girls or johns engage their targets in conversation, hoping to catch the target offering sex for money or vice versa. However, if the target has never committed such a crime before and has never shown any propensity towards engaging in prostitution, they might have an entrapment defense.

    Absence of Payment for Sex

    Escorts are often confused with prostitutes, as we discussed previously. Investigators could rush to judgment and conclude an escort is a prostitute even if an exchange of money for sex did not happen. If these circumstances are present, we might be able to win a dismissal or acquittal for you because no crime occurred. 

    Violation of Your Rights

    Your case might include other issues like search and seizure or Miranda violations. In those instances, we could file a motion to suppress and ask a judge to throw out illegally obtained evidence. Winning a motion to suppress often weakens the prosecution’s case to the point they need to dismiss it or offer you a favorable outcome. 

    We Can Help

    If you were wrongly accused of acting as a prostitute or soliciting a prostitute, you need skilled legal help. At the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices, we have a history of defending cases all across New Mexico successfully. Contact us today for a free consultation.