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A person generally commits the crime of prostitution by engaging in sexual contact or offering to engage in sexual contact in exchange for money or other consideration.

It is also a criminal offense to solicit (on a person's own behalf, or on behalf of another person), promote, or compel prostitution. For example, most states have laws that make it illegal to buy, sell, or profit from prostitution—which is generally the business of pimps and other human traffickers—known as pimping, pandering, procuring, soliciting, promoting, or compelling prostitution.

Prostitution laws vary from state to state and are generally located in a state’s statutes—often in the penal or criminal code.

In Texas, prostitution is defined as knowingly offering or agreeing to receive a fee from another to engage in sexual conduct. The law also criminalizes the act of offering or agreeing to pay a fee to another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct, effectively targeting both the service provider and the client. This is considered a Class B misdemeanor for a first offense. The severity of the charge can escalate with subsequent offenses, potentially leading to felony charges. Additionally, Texas law prohibits activities related to prostitution such as promoting prostitution (pimping), compelling prostitution, and solicitation of prostitution. These offenses can range from a Class A misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the circumstances, such as the age of the individual being solicited and whether it involves compelling or promoting the prostitution of multiple individuals. Texas Penal Code chapters 43.02 and 43.05 specifically address these crimes, outlining the legal framework for offenses and penalties related to prostitution.

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