Home Sugar guides Are Sugar Daddies Legal? Is It Illegal To Pay For Companionship?

Are Sugar Daddies Legal? Is It Illegal To Pay For Companionship?

Are Sugar Daddies Legal? Is It Illegal To Pay For Companionship?

Sugar dating is legal if it’s sugar dating. As some researchers note, sugar arrangements resemble the traditional dating experiences, but with an accompanying financial incentive, and that’s why it remains elusive to the confines of both civil and criminal law in the US. Where’s that fine line between sugaring and sex work? That’s what we’re going to discuss.  

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Sugar baby vs. prostitute vs. escort: are sugar babies prostitutes?

Are sugar daddies illegal? To answer this question, we should analyze the nature of sugar services first, and sugar babies are the ones who provide them. Paying a prostitute is punishable by law, but are ladies seeking arrangement really involved in prostitution?  

sugar baby near hotel

What’s a sugar relationship? Differences from escort & prostitution

Sugar dating is the type of mutually beneficial relationship between two adult partners (SBs and sugar daddies) where the sugar baby is compensated for her time. What exactly does ‘time’ in this context mean? It means companionship (often with friendship, regular dates, romance, support, and care) and yes, intimacy in exchange for payment.

Moreover, studies define the sugar relationship script as the one that incorporates the expectation that a sugar baby and a sugar daddy develop authentic feelings, basically like feelings in traditional “vanilla relationships”. 

“When we talk about the phenomenon of sugar dating in the eyes of law, the most important point to consider is that sugaring operates under the proposed construct of a relationship rather than a business.”

On top of that, researchers confirm that the very fact that a sugar baby can initiate the relationship, delay sexual intimacy, refuse from it or end it distinguishes sugar culture from prostitution and escorts (that ideally don’t involve sex but only the company, attending social events, parties, etc.). Some of them also note that “it would be grossly incorrect to equate all sugar dating with prostitution because people in sugar relationships are rarely arrested for sex work”. 

sugar dating on street

Types of financial compensation

So, is seeking arrangement legal? Surprisingly, it also depends on the type of compensation sugar daddies choose. Generally speaking, there are two of them:

  • Allowance. A sugar daddy pays a monthly allowance (usually $1,500-4,000) to a sugar baby. Such compensation is usually chosen by sugar daddies and sugar babies who have long-term relationships. 
  • Pay per meet (PPM). The term speaks for itself—a sugar baby gets paid for every date with a sugar daddy. In this case, they’re much closer to class B misdemeanor. The thing is it’s not a crime if this is a payment for a date. But if it’s a payment for sexual contact and nothing but sexual content, it’s a crime in the eyes of the law.  

So, is it illegal to pay for a date? Not always, but if your dates are directly transactional (sex in exchange for money) it can be considered sex work. However, if you are a sugar daddy who is dating or going to date a sugar baby and just pays her per meet instead of giving a monthly allowance, it’s not prostitution. 

sugar daddy in hotel room

Are sugar daddies legal?

So, is it illegal to be a sugar daddy? If you really are a sugar daddy who pays a girl not only for sexual contact but also for companionship—friendship, her time, conversations, support, etc, it’s not punishable by law.  It’s illegal to pay a fee for sexual conduct, so if you choose PPM and if you don’t expect and don’t get anything but sex, you’re committing a crime in the eyes of law. Even if sugar daddies meet one girl regularly and pay for specific sex acts, it’s considered prostitution and paying for sex favors, respectively, because though you meet regularly, your arrangement is just about sex. 

Is it illegal to pay for companionship?

Is seeking arrangements illegal? No, it’s not. Is paying for companionship punishable by law? No, it’s not. Is being a sugar daddy illegal? No, it’s not. But only if your sugar relationships involve companionship. Companionship is not only legal—this is what distinguishes sugar dating from prostitution for law enforcement. If a young woman is a companion, not only the girl who has sex with a sugar daddy, she can’t be considered a sex worker. 

Still, it’s also one of the main reasons why many people say that sugar dating is in the gray area—on the one hand, it still involves sex. On the other hand, sugar babies are not prostitutes as they don’t just offer sexual conduct for money—they offer a relationship with sex for money and/or gifts, so sexual intimacy is not the only goal and not the only “service”. 

sugar baby with roses

Penalties for providing sexual service and paying for them

What if a sugar daddy relationship is not exactly “sugar”? What if your agreement is just about sex? In this case, you’ll need to go to a law office or contact your lawyer to get advice on this legal issue. And what attorneys are likely to tell you? What’s the penalty for prostitution or paying women for sex?

Penalties for women having sex for cash on PPM basis

Of course, the penalties vary greatly depending on the state.  For example, in Alaska, women involved in prostitution can get up to 10 days in jail and/or $2,000. In California, it’s up to 6 months and/or $1,000.  In New York, it’s up to 3 months and up to $500.

By the way, there is another danger SBs may face. If an SD sends more money than he’s supposed to pay and asks to send the rest to the third person, exchange cash, etc., it’s a money-laundering scheme, and of course, it’s also a legal issue and it’s punishable by law.

Penalties for men seeking sexual favors in exchange for cash

Men dating younger women and paying them for intimacy can find themselves at the police office, too. Basically, you don’t even have to be a lawyer to know what kind of penalty to expect. In some states, fines are a bit lower than for a woman who provides such kind of service, in some states, they are higher, and in some, they are the same. In Alaska, for example, you can get up to 10 days in jail and/0r $2,000.  In California, it’s up to 6 months and/or $1,000, too. In New York, it’s up to 1 year (much more than for a SB) and up to $1,000.

How to be a legal sugar daddy?

Here are the essential rules that a sugar daddy should follow to stay on the safe side of the law:

  1. Respect the right of a sugar baby to initiate, delay or end intimacy—though it’s a sugar relationship, it’s still a relationship.
  2. If you want to be 100% safe, don’t initiate sexual contact on the first date—it’s better to pay for a nice dinner and a conversation and get some sugar on the next dates.
  3. If you’re still expecting to get physically intimate with a sugar baby on the first date, make sure that it’s actually a sugar date and sex isn’t the only reason why you’re seeing each other.
  4. If you have a long-term relationship, and you still meet just for sex, it’s not legal—make sure you share something more than that.
  5. Remember that though you don’t have to pay taxes for gifts, there are limits that shouldn’t be exceeded. If you give more than $15,000 a year to one person, consult your accountant and pay tax if necessary.

Basically, as we’ve noted above, your relationships just must be about more than just intimacy.

How to be a legal sugar baby?

What about sugar babies? Here are the main rules they need to follow:

  1. Remember that blatantly paid sex is considered sex work—if you go on a date, getting paid for sexual favors shouldn’t be your primary goal.
  2. Don’t delete messages, photos, anything that can prove you and your sugar daddy are actually dating and all he gives to you is just a gift.
  3. In long-term relationships, you shouldn’t meet only for sex, too—a sugar daddy is supposed to be your paying partner, maybe even a paying boyfriend, though you should remember that this is not a traditional relationship and that your man isn’t a traditional boyfriend.

These are a few simple rules, but if you follow them, you will be able to remain a sugar baby, and not become a sex worker. 

Final thoughts

So, is a sugar daddy illegal? No, law enforcement doesn’t view such relationships as misconduct if young women and successful men meet each other through a website (niche platforms like Secret Benefits, Sugar Daddy Meet, Ashley Madison, etc) or in real life if their arrangement operates under the proposed construct of a relationship rather than a business.

So, if you are going to become a sugar daddy and now are looking through the sugar websites to meet young hotties and start showering them with gifts, ask yourself if sex is the only thing you’re looking for and if you are ready to spend money on attorneys and fines. Sugar relationships are not about money, or at least not just about money. Legal sugar websites are not created for people seeking one-night stands or even regular favors—they are intended to help people find matches and start a mutually beneficial relationship, and in this case, a relationship is the keyword.  But if you are seeking an arrangement that can be classified as a purely “sugar” arrangement, you can feel safe—that’s legal.

Allison Robin
Allison is an ex-social worker with over 5 years of experience, and it’s exactly what helps her create the content that will be helpful and comprehensive for a beginner, as well as for an experienced sugar dater. Her specialization is sugar guides, where she shares the most effective algorithms for solving problems, finding sugar partners, and more.
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