Interview with a lawyer: Tips for an escort to stay legal

Since there seems to be such a fine line separating escorting from prostitution, I reached out to a local attorney here in the Portland, OR area to help clarify a few things. Mr. Shanon Gray is an attorney at Gray Law, a Portland, OR-based firm that handles criminal defense cases, including prostitution.

by Ashly Lorenzana

Mr. Gray would like to preface this interview by making it clear that none of this is intended as legal advice, but merely responses to general questions.

What jurisdiction does your advice apply to?
I am licensed in the State of Oregon. I am not familiar with other state laws on prostitution and escort services.
If it’s very local, are there general guidelines across the United States?
Each state has its own laws and most of these offenses will not be federal offenses (unless you get into sex trafficking) . The Feds may also get interested if there are large amounts of money being exchanged and/or services that are being performed across state lines.
Does asking a client “are you a police officer” help escorts in any way?
Not sure how it would help as the police officer is not going to tell you he is a cop.
Does having a disclaimer in an ad along the lines of “I offer escort services and not prostitution services” protect the poster in any way? Especially if a poster later agrees to have sex within the time limits of their encounter?
The disclaimer would help you at trial (looking like a legitimate business) if you were charged with prostitution. Although there will probably be additional evidence of prostitution (johns’ testimony, etc…) in order for the District Attorney’s office to issue the case.
Would having a client sign a contract stating “Payment is for my services as an escort only and not for sex” (prior to the session), protect an escort in any way?
Contracts are fine and give the impression of a legitimate business although using the terminology (“and not for sex”) above alludes to the notion that something sexual may happen.
Does accepting money directly from a client, vs having it being placed on a table, and then picking it up a bit later offer any protection? Is there a suggested way of going about accepting money as an escort that would minimize legal exposure?
Placement of money is one of those issues that cuts both ways. If you accept the money directly from the client then you would have a hard time challenging the notion that you did not know what the money was for especially if sex was involved, if sex wasn’t involved then it looks like you are running a business. I don’t know of any legitimate business that you go in and set money down. You don’t buy coffee that way. If money is just set down then you could argue that you did not know what it was for and maybe thought it was a tip or something. But it also looks fishy in front of a jury, because that’s how prostitutes get paid.
What steps should an escort take if a client suddenly says that he/she is a police officer in the middle of a session?
I advise all of my clients when contacted by the police to not make any statements or say anything at all. Nothing that you say is going to help you out. I also advise people to get an attorney immediately if contacted by the police in any way. Police will tell you anything you want to hear in order to get a statement. The police cannot guarantee any outcome of the case, because they don’t have the power to decide if the case gets issued or not, that is the District Attorney’s office. You can always cooperate later once they cut you a deal.
Anything else that you think people out there should know, but mostly don’t?
Prostitution is illegal and should not be done. Escort services ( paying for a social or business companion) are part of our society and can be a very lucrative business. The more open you are with your business and the more you conduct your self like a business the less attention you will draw to yourself. It is not illegal for two consensual adults to have sex. Being very clear about the services you offer and controlling your clients (potential police officers) expectations is the key.

EDITOR’S NOTE

As you can see based on Mr. Gray’s answers, establishing your escort services as a legitimate business is your best bet when it comes to staying out of legal trouble. Be discreet, do your best to avoid anything that could be incriminating and seek professional legal advice if you run into trouble.

Some good ways to start:


If you have been charged with prostitution and live in Portland, OR or surrounding areas, contact Mr. Gray’s law firm for a free consultation.