Rhode Island prostitution law

In 1980, Rhode Island attempted to tighten down its laws prohibiting prostitution and related crimes by specifying that street prostitution was unlawful. However, through this new legislation, a loophole was created that allowed other forms of prostitution to occur within the parameters of the law. In 2009, the statutes were corrected, and all forms of prostitution are considered unlawful and punishable within Rhode Island. The lawmakers have been very careful to explicitly prohibit all related crimes and leave no loopholes.


Rhode Island considers anyone who engages in or offers to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for a fee as a prostitute. The fee exchanged does not have to be money; it can be anything of monetary value for purposes of the exchange. The sexual conduct committed by the prostitute may also be called “commercial sexual activity.”

Prostitution is a misdemeanor, but is punishable with fines and/or imprisonment. First-time convictions get a defendant a fine between $250 and $1,000 and/or up to 6 months in jail. Subsequent convictions have sentences of up to 1 year imprisonment and/or fines between $500 and $1,000.

Loitering is also illegal and defined as when an individual stand or wanders in and around public or private places, attempting to stop passersby in order entice them to become patrons of acts of prostitution. Someone who also attempts to stop travelers in motor vehicles for this purpose is guilty of loitering. Loitering carries the same sentences as prostitution.

Those who have been convicted of prostitution may have their records expunged, at the court’s discretion, one year after their sentences have been successfully completed.

Patronization and solicitation

Rhode Island’s laws make it illegal for someone to engage as a customer (or a potential customer) of a prostitute. The procurement of sexual conduct for a fee by an individual at any time, place or location is strictly prohibited. Sentences for first offenses are the same as punishments for those convicted of prostitution: up to 6 months in jail and/or fines from $250 to $1,000 for the first offense, up to 1 year in jail and/or fines from $500 to $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

It is also strictly forbidden to solicit the services of a prostitute from a motor vehicle, either as the driver or a passenger. Punishments are the same for this offense, however when a defendant is convicted this crime two or more times, the court may seize the motor vehicle. The court may forfeit the vehicle at its discretion. Any money received for forfeiture will be donated to the Victim’s of Crimes Indemnity Fund.


Inducing, persuading, threatening and promising in order to cause someone to become a prostitute is illegal. Also included in the pandering statute is maintaining, running or operating a house of prostitution, being a pimp or a madam, transporting for the purpose of prostitution and receiving support from funds derived from prostitution activities.

Pandering carries more severe penalties. First offenses may receive 1 to 5 years in prison and/or fines from $2,000 to $5,000. Subsequent convictions result in sentences of 3 to 10 years in prison and/or fines up to $10,000 per offense.

Venereal disease and HIV testing

Anyone who is convicted of prostitution activities is mandated by the court to undergo testing for venereal diseases. If a defendant is unwilling to comply, he or she may be convicted of a misdemeanor charge for refusal and serve up to 3 months in jail. After being tested, anyone found to be infectious will be treated or quarantined if they prove to be a menace to society.

HIV testing compliance is mandatory, whether a defendant is willing or not.

The following Nevada counties have their own laws and regulations on prostitution:

Prostitution laws in US cities:

Prostitution laws in Canada