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Legalities of Prostitution

There are often misconceptions about what is and is not legal when dealing with prostitution. Below you will find information on the legalities of exchanging money for sex.

What is Legal?

The following acts relating to prostitution are not against the law:

Being a prostitute (Sex Trade Worker)

It is not illegal to be a prostitute if you are over 18.

Loitering:

Many business owners who own establishments where Sex Trade Workers congregate are frustrated with why the police cannot simply go and arrest someone who is standing on a corner and is obviously a prostitute. Loitering is not illegal. In the past, Sex Trade Workers could be arrested under vagrancy laws if they were standing for some time on a street corner. These laws were repealed some time ago. Police can only encourage Sex Trade Workers to move from a certain location. They cannot arrest them unless they are doing something illegal.

Supporting family members:

Sex Trade Workers who use their wages to support their children are not committing an illegal act and the children cannot be charged with "living off the avails of prostitution."

Escort agencies:

It is not illegal for an individual to work for an escort agency as long as they are licensed to do so by the city. Further, engaging in non-sexual services while working for the agency is not illegal. For example, an escort who merely accompanies a john, or client, to a social gathering is not doing anything illegal. However, if it is implied that a sex act is available but will cost the client extra and a discussion ensues about price for sexual services, and if the discussion occurs in a public place, then the john and the escort are committing an illegal act (i.e., communication for the purpose of prostitution -- s. 213). If, however, the discussion occurs in a private residence, no offence has been committed.

Massage parlours:

It is not illegal for an individual to work for a massage parlour as long as they are licensed to do so by the city. Further, engaging in non-sexual services while working for the parlour is not illegal. A masseuse who actually just gives massages is not doing anything illegal. Performing sexual services in a massage clinic may be illegal if the police can prove the clinic is a place which has as its purpose prostitution. If it is implied that a sex act is available but will cost the client extra and a discussion ensues about price for sexual services the masseuse and client are committing an illegal act (communication for the purpose of prostitution -- s. 213) unless the discussion occurs in a massage room. In that case, no illegal act has been committed.

What is Illegal?

The following acts relating to prostitution are against the law:

Communication for the purpose of prostitution -- s.213:

Often called solicitation. If anyone talks to a Sex Trade Worker about exchanging sexual services for money or other consideration (e.g., drugs, payment of bills, gas, food, etc.) and this occurs in a public place they are committing an illegal act. This includes a car on a street or in a parking lot or any place which the public has access (e.g., restaurant, hotel lobby, etc.). Without an intention to engage in sexual services there is no offence. So, in other words, if you stop to ask a Sex Trade Worker for the time, you are not committing an illegal act, but if the subject of money for sex comes up and you contribute to the discussion (e.g., so how much for ...?) you are committing an illegal act.

Procuring -- s. 212 (1) (a) (d):

Also called pimping, it is against the law. You cannot entice a person who is not a prostitute to become a prostitute under any circumstance.

Exercising control, direction or influence -- s.212 (1) (h):

Another form of pimping or extorting vulnerable people. If someone exercises control, direction, and influence on where a Sex Trade Worker goes and who a Sex Trade Worker goes with they are committing an illegal act. Escort agencies and massage parlours can be prosecuted under this law. The only way an escort agency or massage parlour can avoid breaking this law is if they allow the escort or masseuse to decide if they want to go to a date without penalizing them for refusing.

Living on the avails of prostitution -- s. 212 (1) (j):

Another law against pimps. Though it is usually used against pimps, and escort agencies and massage parlours can be charged with this offence. A mother who sends out her daughter, or a boyfriend who sends out his girlfriend to be a Sex Trade Worker and takes a cut of the profits, are examples of other individuals who can be charged with this offense. This does not apply to the support of children that a prostitute may have

Obtaining sexual services of a person under 18 -- s. 212 (4):

This law only applies to johns or clients of prostitutes. It is a very serious offense to try to obtain the sexual service of a child (defined as an individual under 18). Further, a person could be convicted of an attempt to obtain sexual services of a person under 18 where the Sex Trade Worker is over 18 but the john believes she is underage.

Common bawdy-house -- s. 210:

It is illegal to own, operate or even be in a bawdy house. Most people think of a bawdy house as something like a brothel, but this can apply to any place that is frequently and habitually used for the purposes of prostitution. Johns found in the premises will be subpoenaed to court to give evidence about their experience on the premises. Massage parlours can be prosecuted under this law.

Indecent act -- s. 173 (1):

Also called exposure. Most people think this only applies to flashers or other sex offenders, but if a john and a Sex Trade Worker are engaging in a sex act in a public place they can both be charged with this offense if they intended to offend passerby, or if the act takes place in the presence of other persons.

Other offences that might apply are sexual interference (s. 151) and even sexual assault (s. 271) if the prostitute is under 14; invitation to sexual touching (s. 152); sexual exploitation (s. 153); anal intercourse (s. 159); and, child pornography provisions (s. 163.1).


Please assist us in the tracking of 'john' activity in your community. Your information will be used to understand where and how much prostitution activity is occurring in Edmonton neighbourhoods. Use the Tab button to move from field to field, NOT the Enter button. Click on the Submit button, at the bottom of the form, to send your information to the EPS Crime Analysis Section.

Users should be aware that submitting a false report for malicious reasons or even as a practical joke is a very serious offense (Public Mischief s. 140 of the Criminal Code) and can result in criminal prosecution. All information submitted in these forms is completely confidential.