Prostitution


The ACT has a Prostitution Act, which includes many of the offence provisions previously found in the Crimes Act (where they remain in other jurisdictions, such as NSW). Prostitution is not illegal in the ACT but it is highly regulated and many associated activities are illegal. These include procuring someone to be a prostitute and soliciting in public places.

Procuring for Prostitution

The offence of procuring for prostitution is set out in the Prostitution Act 1992, at Section 17, which provides a maximum penalty of six years’ imprisonment for procuring for prostitution.

What the Police Must Prove

To be found guilty of procuring, a person will need to be shown to have:

  • induced a person to provide or to continue to provide commercial sexual services by:
    • intimidating, assaulting or threatening to assault any person; or
    • supplying or offering to supply a controlled medicine or prohibited substance to any person; or
    • making a false representation or otherwise acting fraudulently.

Or:

  • induced any person to provide or continue to provide him or her with payment derived, directly or indirectly, from the provision of commercial sexual services by
    • intimidating, assaulting or threatening to assault a person; or
    • supplying or offering to supply a controlled medicine or prohibited substance to a person;

“Commercial sexual services” are defined in the Prostitution Act to be “sexual services provided for monetary consideration or any other form of consideration or material reward (regardless of whether the consideration or reward is, or is to be, paid or given to the prostitute or another person)”.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As the offence of procuring for prostitution carries a maximum prison sentence of more than 5 years, you could elect to have the matter finalised in the ACT Supreme Court or you could consent to the jurisdiction of the ACT Magistrates Court, where a maximum prison sentence of only two years could be applied.

The Offence of Soliciting

The Prostitution Act, at Section 19, provides for brothels in certain locations and bans soliciting in public places with a maximum penalty of a fine of 20 Penalty Units.

What the Police Must Prove

To convict you of soliciting, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • that you acted for the purpose of offering or procuring commercial sexual services, and that you:
    • accosted any person in a public place;
    • solicited in a public place; or
    • loitered in a public place.

If a person accosts a child in a public place for the purpose of offering or procuring commercial sexual services, he or she faces a maximum penalty of 3 years’ imprisonment.

It is a defence to a prosecution in relation to a young person if it is established that the defendant:

  • took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the child concerned; and
  • believed on reasonable grounds that the child had attained 18 years of age.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As the offence in relation to an adult carries only a fine as penalty, soliciting is a summary-only matter, meaning that it will be dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court.

As the offence of accosting a child to offer sexual services carries a maximum penalty of three years’ imprisonment, the prosecution can unilaterally elect to keep it in the Magistrates Court, where the maximum prison penalty that can be imposed is two years. If the prosecution does not exercise its election, you can choose to have the matter go to the Supreme Court, where it would be heard in front of a jury, or you can consent to the jurisdiction of the Magistrates Court.

Causing A Child to Provide Commercial Sexual Services

It is an offence to cause, permit, offer or procure a child to provide commercial sexual services. If the child is under 12 years old, the maximum penalty is a fine of 1500 Penalty Units and/or imprisonment for 15 years.

If the child is 12 years old or older, the maximum penalty is a fine of 1000 Penalty Units and/or 10 years.

What the Police Must Prove

To be convicted of causing a child to provide commercial sexual services, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the person involved was a child; and that you:

  • caused; or
  • permitted; or
  • offered; or
  • procured that child to provide commercial sexual services.

“Commercial sexual services” is defined in the Prostitution Act to be “sexual services provided for monetary consideration or any other form of consideration or material reward (regardless of whether the consideration or reward is, or is to be, paid or given to the prostitute or another person)”.

Possible Defences for Procuring A Child For Sexual Services:

It is a defence to a charge of procuring a child for sexual service if it is established that the defendant:

  • took reasonable steps to ascertain the age of the child concerned; and
  • believed on reasonable grounds that the child had attained 18 years of age.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

If the child involved is under 12 years old, the maximum penalty of 15 years’ imprisonment means that the charge is strictly indictable and must be dealt with in the ACT Supreme Court.

If the child is 12 years or older, the maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment means that you can elect to keep the matter in the Magistrates Court, where a maximum of only two years can be imposed.

Making Proceeds from Child Prostitution

Making money from prostituting children has been illegal for a very long time, but the charge is now found in the ACT’s Prostitution Act 1992, which states, at Section 21, that a person shall not receive a payment that he or she knows, or could reasonably be expected to have known, is derived, directly or indirectly, from commercial sexual services provided by a child.

The maximum penalty is imprisonment for 7 years.

What the Police Must Prove

To be convicted of making proceeds from child prostitution, the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the person involved in the prostitution was a child; and
  • that child engaged in commercial sexual services, as defined in the Act; and
  • that you received a payment that you:
    • knew; or
    • could reasonably be expected to have known, was derived
      • directly, or
      • indirectly from the commercial sexual services.

Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?

As the maximum penalty is imprisonment for seven years, you can elect to have the matter remain in the Magistrates Court, where the maximum that can be imposed is two years.

Allowing A Child in A Brothel or Escort Agency

Operators or owners of brothels and escort agencies face a maximum penalty of a fine of 20 penalty units if they permit a child to be on the premises. The offence is found at Section 23 of the Prostitution Act.

What the Police Must Prove

  • that the person involved was a child.
  • that that child was on the relevant premises.
  • that the owner or operator did not have a reasonable excuse for the child being present.

Which court will hear your matter?

As having a child on premises carries only a fine as penalty, it is a summary offence and will be dealt with in the ACT Magistrates Court.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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