While most? New York City residents are aware that prostitution is illegal in New York? State, many people do not realize that prostitutes, pimps (or madams), and johns can all be arrested and convicted under New York law without any sexual conduct taking place or any money being exchanged. ?The statutes concerning prostitution in New York are set forth in Penal Law Chapter 230.
The basic crime is Prostitution, set forth under Penal Law Section 230.00. ?A person is guilty of this Class B misdemeanor when he or she ?engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.? ?It is important to emphasize here that it makes no difference whether the defendant actually received money or engaged in any sexual act: simply the offer of sexual services for money is just as serious under this section.
The definition of ?sexual conduct? (defined in Penal Law Section 130.00 and 130.00) for the purposes of New York’s? prostitution laws includes sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, aggravated sexual contact, and sexual contact. ?This broad language is meant to encompass any and all kinds of sexual behavior.
Conversely, a john that pays or offers or? agrees to pay for any kind of sexual service is also guilty of at least the Class B misdemeanor of Penal Law 230.03 (Patronizing a Prostitute in the Fourth Degree). ?This crime can be upgraded to a far more serious felony offense if the prostitute involved is underage. ?In the past, it was a defense to these more serious charges that the john did not have a reasonable cause to believe that the prostitute was underage (under the repealed Penal Law Section 230.07), but this is no longer the case: patronizing an underage prostitute is now a strict liability crime.
Finally, promoting prostitution is illegal under Penal Law Section 230.20. ?Promoting Prostitution in the Fourth Degree, a? Class A misdemeanor, makes it a crime to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution. ?Under Penal Law Section 230.15, a person ?advances prostitution? when, without being a prostitute or a prostitute’s patron, he or she knowingly causes or aids a person to patronize a prostitute or engage in prostitution, procures or solicits patrons for prostitution, provides persons or premises for prostitution purposes, operates or assists in the operation of a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise, or engages in any other conduct designed to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution. ?A person ?profits from prostitution? when, acting other than as a prostitute being paid for personally rendered prostitution services, he or she accepts or receives money or other property ?based on an agreement to participate in the proceeds of prostitution activity.
Promoting prostitution is actually a more serious offense than prostitution itself.? While regular Prostitution is a B misdemeanor (punishable by up to 90 days in jail), Promoting Prostitution is an A misdemeanor (punishable by up to 1 year in jail). ?The charges relating to promoting prostitution can even be felonies if certain aggravating factors are present. ?For example, Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree (Penal Law 230.20, a Class D felony) involves two or more prostitutes being promoted or a prostitute under the age of 19. ?Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree (Penal Law 230.30, a Class C felony) applies when the prostitute is under 16 years of age or where coercive force or intimidation is used on the prostitute. ?Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree (Penal Law 230.32, a Class B felony), applies to situations in which the prostitute is less than 11 years old.
If prostitutes travel across state lines or are part of large-scale organizations, the cases can even be prosecuted by federal law enforcement officers, as well. Collateral charges are also common when large-scale operations are involved, including but not limited to, enterprise corruption and money laundering.
If you have been accused of prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, or promoting prostitution in NYC, you should be aware that it is potentially a very serious matter. It is in your best interest to contact an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at once.