Prosecution – Italy

1. Crimes
2. Making a Police Statement
3. After Questioning

If, in a raid, police pick up an migrant sex worker who has no residence permit and/or no work permit, they will initiate immigration proceedings against her. She may lose her residence permit and be deported.
If she is suspected of having committed a crime in another matter (e.g. theft, fraud), she will additionally face criminal proceedings. In this case the woman is an accused party.


1. Crimes

Working as a sex worker is a crime only if someone can be ascertained to have facilitated or abetted the prostitution of other women, in circumstances such as the following:

  • A woman rents an apartment/room/house to another prostitute who works there.
  • She sells condoms to prostitutes, brings them coffee or aids or abets prostitution in any other way.
  • Openly aggressive solicitation
  • Working as a sex worker without a work or residence permit is not a crime, but is illegal. A woman who engages in prostitution without a residence permit can be legally expelled.
Please note:
A new prostitution regulation may come into force in Italy according to which prostitution may become criminalized in the future. It is not certain when this will be the case.

2. Making a Police Statement

A. Right to Remain Silent

The accused has the right to remain silent. Even in answering questions about other people, she need not say anything which incriminates or tends to incriminate her or members of her family.

B. Translator

The accused is entitled to the services of a translator in her own language.
If she feels unable to trust the translator, she should tell the police. However, she is not legally entitled to the services of another translator.

C. Lawyer

She is not entitled to her lawyer’s presence at the questioning. The lawyer may be present if granted police permission. On the other hand, the woman is entitled to a lawyer’s presence if she becomes accused of a criminal offence.
Hint: Memorise a lawyer’s telephone number!

D. Custody

In Italy, if the woman is not in possession of valid identity papers, she may be held for up to 48 hours in order for her identity to be ascertained, or if she a crime suspect. Later on, she may be detained only if this has been ordered by an examination court, or for deportation purposes. The woman has the right to a lawyer’s services in this process.

E. Victims of Trafficking in Women

The woman may be not only accused, but also a victim of trafficking in women or other serious crimes. Should this be the case, she has special rights.
She should insist that the police establish contact to an advisory centre. (See Useful Addresses).

3. After Questioning

A. Immigration Offences

A woman who has committed an immigration offence (illegal residency, illegal employment) will be expelled from Italy if she does not possess a residence permit and is not entitled to remain on humanitarian or other grounds (see information in Migration).
If the woman’s identity is unknown, she will be detained in the closest centre of temporary permanence and assistance (“centro di permanenza temporanea e assistenza”) in order to ascertain her identity.
The detention may last up to sixty (60) days and it is followed, as a general rule, by the expulsion. Only in particular cases (art. 14, comma 5, law 189/2002) the woman will be ordered to leave the Italian territory within 5 days. It is a crime to disobey that obligation.
If the woman’s identity is known and she is in Italy without a permit, she may not come back to Italy unless authorised by Italian authorities. If she tries to re-enter Italy illegally, she will be liable under criminal law and will be again expelled.

B. Crimes

In case of crimes such as renting rooms or selling coffee to other prostitutes, theft, fraud, etc., the investigation authorities will initiate proceedings against the woman. A criminal charge and legal proceedings may follow. If a criminal sentence is passed, the woman may also lose her residence permit. The outcome depends on the severity of the sentence and the type of residence permit she holds.
Please note:
A new regulation of prostitution may come into force in Italy according to which prostitution may become criminalized in the future. It is not certain when this will be the case.
If investigation proceedings are initiated against the woman, she should always seek a lawyer’s advice!
Scroll to Top