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Rhode Island Prostitution Laws – Facts and Penalties


Rhode Island Prostitution Laws

It all started with COYOTE

Prostitution wasn’t always the punishable crime that is today. Rhode Island Prostitution Laws were seriously changed starting with a process in 1976 begun by a group called COYOTE. The group also known as “Call Off Your Old Tired Ethics” moved to amend the way the ocean state viewed prostitution laws. In a game-changing lawsuit, COYOTE sued the Providence chief of police and the Rhode Island Attorney General. They claimed that the law that prohibited prostitution as well as additional “lewd and indecent acts” were unconstitutional. This process would change Rhode Island prostitution laws for nearly 30 years.

The suit made its way to the Supreme Court of Rhode Island the next year and in turn influenced lawmakers. Consequently causing prostitution to change from a felony to a misdemeanor. Unfortunately at the same time when verbiage was being changed in the Rhode Island prostitution laws, lawmakers removed a portion of the law that made indoor prostitution illegal.

While it may seem as though that may have been a bigger deal today, most prostitution at the time occurred outdoors. The loophole went unnoticed for twenty-one years before it first became noticed. Ultimately nothing truly changed for an another five years. The first major address to the laws change was dealt with in 2003 when a major police investigation had to be thrown out. The sting code-named “Operation Rubdown” targeted several massage parlors offering items not listed on the menu so to speak. The prostitutes arrested retained legal counsel who were able to after analyzing the current Rhode Island prostitution laws conveyed to the judge that their clients had done nothing illegal. The judge reviewed their claims and was forced to close the case against the defendants. It then became common knowledge that paying for sex was legal so long as you did so indoors.

Six years later the then Governor of Rhode Island Donald Carcieri changed the Rhode Island prostitution laws to the text we know now.

Rhode Island prostitution laws and penalties

Being charged with prostitution in Rhode Island has serious consequences. These crimes are punishable by jail sentences up to six months and fines ranging from $250-$1000. Additional offenses will warrant supplementary penalties. Anyone convicted of an offense associated with prostitution sentenced to jail time must undergo HIV testing. If your sentence is more than ten days, you will likely be subject to a wider array of STD testing. Refusing to submit to these tests will result in additional time and a $250 fine. You may also have your vehicle impounded as well as any money earned through prostitution. If you are convicted, you may file to have your record expunged by filing a motion one year after your sentence has been completed.

Prostitution Arrest Defense

The defense for prostitution, loitering, procuring, or solicitation begins with hiring an experienced attorney. Rhode Island Attorney S. Joshua Macktaz can assist you in dealing with Rhode Island prostitution laws. Whether the accusations are true or false, these situations can be extremely difficult. They can cause difficulties in one’s relationships both personal and professional. These circumstances are delicate and will be dealt with professionally and with extreme discretion. Please do not hesitate to the office of S. Joshua Macktaz 24 hours a day at (401) 861-1155.