New York City Prostitution Lawyer
Any person who makes an offer to perform a sexual act with another in exchange for something of value breaks the law, even if sex does not occur. A conviction for any prostitution-related offense carries a potential jail sentence, and the most serious charges could label a person as a felon and force them to register as a sex offender.
The New York City prostitution lawyers at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman can help prevent this from happening. Our skilled defense attorneys can explain what the prosecutor needs to prove to secure a conviction and then we can work to build a defense that protects your rights and reputation.
Background on Prostitution and Sex Solicitation Offenses in New York City
Before the War on Drugs, there was the War on Prostitution and New York City was the epicenter of it. People v. Smith, 44 N.Y.2d 613, 617-18 (1978) (noting the difficulties of law enforcement to stem the “profligate spread of the world’s oldest profession and its attendant evils in our central cities” as the reason behind proliferation of prostitution offenses). Although clearly no longer the presence on the urban street corners of Manhattan as it once was, prosecutions for prostitution and derivative offenses continue in waves in New York today.
Today’s prostitution rings, as witnessed by experienced New York City criminal defense lawyers, are no longer the organized crime syndicates and illegal gangs of yesteryears but rather come in the form of sophisticated and tech-savvy corporations offering high-priced escort and massage services over the internet. Logically then, when prostitution crimes are prosecuted today, it is often the unsuspecting who end up ensnared in the state’s charges. As for the police, they are no longer making their rounds looking for prostitution on the corners of Manhattan and Brooklyn but now online “on Craigslist and other Web sites.” People v. Ahmed, 72 A.D.3d 502 (1st Dep’t. 2010).
Under the various provisions of Section 230 of the New York Penal Law, any knowing participant in an enterprise involving the sale of sex or companionship may be conceivably arrested and charged with a litany of misdemeanor and felony offenses for their alleged role in prostitution. Those susceptible to being charged criminally include not only the usual suspects of prostitution such as patrons (colloquially known as Johns), madams, pimps, prostitutes and call girls but also the unsuspecting, such as landlords and others with “legitimate business.” People v. Telles, 48 Misc. 3d 1070, 1073 (Queens Co. Crim. Ct. 2015). In fact, if there is an argument to be made – and evidence to support it – that an individual or corporation was set up as or assisted an enterprise of prostitution they, and any employees, can be charged with one or more of these following crimes, either as a direct participant or as an accomplice.
New York City Charges Involving the Offering of Sex for Money
At the most basic level, New York Penal Law §230.00 states that it is illegal for any person to offer to engage in sexual conduct with another in return for a fee. This fee can take the form of money or anything else with a tangible value. As a result, many prostitution investigations target the individuals offering the sexual activity.
However, just as it is illegal for a person to perform this act personally, it is also illegal to promote or profit from these acts. Under New York Penal Law §230.20, it is against the law to take any step that furthers an act of prostitution or to profit from an exchange. Other examples of prostitution-related offenses include:
- New York Penal Law § 230.00 — Prostitution
- New York Penal Law §§ 230.02 – 230.06 — Patronizing a Prostitute
- New York Penal Law §§ 230.15 – 230.32 — Promoting Prostitution
- New York Penal Law § 230.33 — Compelling Prostitution
- New York Penal Law § 230.34 — Sex Trafficking
- New York Penal Law § 230.40 — Permitting Prostitution
A New York City attorney can assess the type of prostitution charges against someone and determine the best course of legal action.
How Does Someone Get Charged with Patronizing a Prostitute?
Just as it is illegal for a person to offer sex in exchange for something of value, it is also against the law to request sexual acts in exchange for money. New York Penal Law §230.04 states that it is a class A misdemeanor to patronize any person for prostitution. However, these charges can become much more serious if the aggravating factor of age plays a role.
The charges increase to a Class E felony if the person who a defendant is requesting sex from is under 15 years old. The most serious examples are when the subject is under the age of 11. Here, the charges are Class D felonies. A New York City prostitution attorney could prepare defenses against any version of patronization charges.
What are the Potential Penalties in New York City?
A violation of any of these crimes carries serious and potentially life-altering penalties. Ranging from B misdemeanors to B felonies, a conviction in New York City for a prostitution offense can result in incarceration ranging from 90 days in jail to 25 years in a state corrections facility. Additionally, depending on the specific circumstances of an individual’s case, a conviction for patronizing or promoting prostitution may require registration as a Sex Offender, which could deem someone as unemployable and a villain to the community.
If someone is alleged to be involved in a more complex or sophisticated prostitution ring or racket, there is a greater possibility that additional crimes may be charged as well as possible federal intervention. These additional crimes range from an A misdemeanor to a B felony and include:
- New York Penal Law § 460.20 — Enterprise Corruption
- New York Penal Law §§ 175.05 – 175.10 — Falsifying Business Records
- New York Penal Law § 470.00, et seq — Money Laundering
Contact Our New York City Prostitution Attorneys
As law enforcement’s tactics investigating these cases are becoming increasingly sophisticated and deceptive, retaining top New York City prostitution lawyers with experience defending complex investigations – where wiretaps and undercover agents are the norm – is more essential now than ever before when defending state prostitution charges. Contact our attorneys today. The sooner you engage us, the more effective we can be in defending you from these serious charges.