Wisconsin Laws Regarding “Prostitutes” versus “Escorts”

By Reddin & Singer


There is often a great deal of confusion regarding the difference between an escort and a prostitute. In fact, many times the words are used interchangeably. The truth of the matter, however, is that the two are actually quite distinct. Understanding the difference is critical when it comes to possible defenses to charges of prostitution. If you are facing prostitution-related charges, it is important to seek a qualified and knowledgeable Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who can diligently represent you.

Wisconsin law prohibits prostitution. Under state law, a prostitute is defined as a person who exchanges sex for money or other items of value. This includes:

  • Having, offering to have or requesting to have non-marital sexual intercourse for anything of value;

  • Committing, offering, or requesting to commit an act of sexual gratification, in public or in private, involving the sex organ of one person and the mouth or anus of another for anything of value;

  • Residing in a place of prostitution;

  • Masturbating a person, offering to masturbate a person, or asking to be masturbated by a person for anything of value; or

  • Committing, offering to commit, or requesting to commit an act of sexual contact for anything of value.

Prostitution is categorized as a class A misdemeanor in Wisconsin. If found guilty, a prostitute could face up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

People who purchase sexual acts from a prostitute are referred to as “patrons” in Wisconsin and can also be punished under state law. You will be considered to patronize a prostitute if you enter or remain in a place of prostitution or if you intend to have non-marital intercourse or an act of sexual gratification with a prostitute. The penalty for patronizing a prostitute in Wisconsin is also up to nine months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.

In contrast to a prostitute who provides sexual services, an escort, by definition, does not provide sexual services in exchange for anything of value. An escort is an individual who is paid to provide company for social affairs, entertainment purposes, or any general activity. Since an escort merely provides companionship, the service is legal. However, if an escort service is a cover for prostitution, it is illegal.

Many local cities in Wisconsin have passed ordinances mandating that any and all escorts and escort services must obtain a license and pay a fee in order to operate within the respective city limits. A few of these cities include Milwaukee, Appleton, Grand Chute, Schofield, and Weston.

If you are facing a prostitution-related charge, it is important to reach out to an experienced Milwaukee criminal defense attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and options. With years of experience, the Milwaukee criminal defense attorneys at Reddin & Singer will meticulously analyze the facts of your case before crafting a defense. There are many variables to consider when defending a prostitution-related charge, which is why it is imperative to obtain solid representation in your case. To learn more, contact us online or call us at (414) 271-6400.