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Is it illegal to run an escort service or dating service online. it wouldnt be like for sex just for men to pay and choose a dat

Houston, TX |

is it illegal to run an escort service or dating service online. it wouldnt be like for sex just for men to pay and choose a dating partner, etc.

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Attorney answers 3


These comments are made for educational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists between us.

You can run that sort of business, but you must be concerned about the public's expectations and what your escorts may chose to do with the clients you arrange.


The relevant statutes are sections 43.01 to 43.04 of the Texas Penal Code, which I've linked below.

Whether the "dating" and "escorting" is prostitution or not depends on sections 43.01 and 43.02. Basically, the key is whether there's a solicitation or agreement to have "sexual conduct" for a fee. "Sexual conduct" means "any touching of the anus, breast, or any part of the genitals of another person with intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person," and the interpreting cases make it clear that the touching can qualify as "sexual conduct" even if it's through clothing.

Section 43.03 makes it a Class A misdemeanor if a person knowingly "(1) receives money or other property pursuant to an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution; or (2) solicits another to engage in sexual conduct with another person for compensation." Those owning or involved in running the "service" would doubtless argue that even if there was prostitution by the "dates" or "escorts," the owners/managers didn't have the required knowledge of that. However, the factfinder (judge or jury) would be entitled to draw reasonable inferences from all of the circumstances, so if, for example, the service advertised "happy endings" or the like, that would probably be enough to support a conviction. Also, quite often the police will have arrested one of the "dates" or "escorts," who may be enticed/pressured to give direct testimony to show that the owners/managers did indeed know that there was prostitution going on.

If there's genuinely no prostitution, then the service may be legal. But even if the owners/managers genuinely intended not to permit prostitution, there would be enormous risks of it going on, and corresponding risks that law enforcement authorities -- and ultimately, a court and jury -- might draw a different conclusion as to their intent.

If your real question was, "Could someone CLAIM this was JUST a 'dating' or 'escort' service and successfully avoid prosecution even though there really was prostitution going on?" then the answer is, "Maybe, but probably not."


Forgot to add the link. Here it is:

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