Missouri’s laws concerning prostitution and related crimes are somewhat lengthy and a bit convoluted until broken down into particular categories. Generally, the laws are somewhat standard and compare well with other states in the United States. Missouri does not distinguish between the sexes when punishing prostitution crimes. Prostitutes and patrons who are the same sex are still considered guilty, just as is a male prostitute with a female patron. Overall, prostitution and its promotion are prohibited and punished with possible imprisonment and fines.
Prostitution, a class B misdemeanor, is defined as engaging or offering to engage in acts of sexual conduct in exchange for compensation. Sexual conduct is clearly stated to involve several acts including:
- Sexual intercourse: penetration of female sex organs by male sex organs.
- Deviate sexual intercourse: acts involving the genitals of one person and another’s mouth, tongue, hands or anus.
- Sexual contact: the touching of the anus or genitals of one person by another person in order to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of either.
Sentences for someone found guilty of promoting prostitution cannot exceed a prison sentence of up to 10 years and/or a fine up to $50,000.
Prostitution guilty verdicts result in a sentence of 30 days to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $500. Persistent offenders who have pled guilty or been found guilty two or more times may face a class D felony and a much more serious sentence. All prostitution convictions that involve known HIV infections may be subject to charges for class B felonies. Prior to sentencing on all prostitution convictions, the judge may mandate attendance at a drug or alcohol abuse treatment center. After successful completion, one’s verdict or guilty plea may be overturned.
Patronization of a prostitute is considered unlawful and is when one person gives something of value as compensation to another person in exchange for engaging in sexual conduct or requesting or soliciting another for acts of sexual conduct in exchange for payment. Considered a class B misdemeanor, it usually results in a sentence of 30 days to 6 months in jail and/or a fine up to $500. However, patronization of a prostitute between the ages of 14 to 18 years old results in charges of a class A misdemeanor. Patronizing a prostitute who is younger than 14 years old causes one to be charged with statutory rape or sodomy, a much more serious crime.
The promotion of prostitution is also illegal in Missouri. Three different degrees of prostitution promotion are defined by Missouri statutes. Third degree promotion is the least severe level and is a class D felony. It involves the basic promotion of prostitution designed to aid or abet an act of prostitution or assists in soliciting patrons for prostitution.
Second degree promotion of prostitution is a class C felony and punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $5,000. One who is guilty of second degree promotion of prostitution:
- Manages, supervises or owns a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise, or
- Provides persons with premises or location for prostitution, or
- Accepts or receives something of value (money, jewelry, automobiles, drugs or other valuables) due to an agreement with a person who engages in acts of prostitution for money or other valuables.
First degree promotion of prostitution is defined by the state of Missouri as compelling a person into prostitution by forcible compulsion. This compulsion can occur in various forms including acts of violence, the use of drugs or alcohol to cause someone to act in an unnatural state or the act of withholding drugs or alcohol from an addicted person. Additionally, first degree promotion of prostitution includes causing a person younger than 16 years of age to engage in prostitution.
Missouri also defines selling travel services that include or facilitate prostitution as class C felonies.