New York City Compelling Prostitution Lawyer
In New York, prosecutors take cases that involve a person in a position of power forcing another individual to do something very seriously. The degree of severity is naturally based on the actions which are forced on the reluctant party. Offenses involving crimes likely to generate some societal outrage, such as those involving forced sexual conduct, are considered extremely serious.
An individual can be convicted of Compelling Prostitution when the prosecutor can show that the defendant is 18 years old or older, and he or she forces a person who is under 18 to engage in Prostitution through force or some sort of intimidation. It does not matter if the defendant is unaware that the prostitute is under 18; the prosecutor does not need to demonstrate knowledge of age. A New York City compelling prostitution lawyer could help you if you have been accused of this crime. Our attorneys are aggressive legal advocates that could work hard to protect your rights and freedoms.
Defining “Force” in Crimes of Prostitution
Courts have broadly interpreted the word “force,” so that it includes both physical menace as well as mental coercion. It seems obvious that actions such as pointing a gun or brandishing a knife at someone and telling them what to do would fall under this statute, but a person can also be convicted of this crime if he employs blackmail, intense bullying, or any actions where the Courts determine that the defendant’s actions were intended to erode the free will of the prostitute, and they had no choice but to comply.
Due to the underlying nature of this crime, the penalties can be severe. Compelling Prostitution is a class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison. Courts tend to deal harshly with these types of force and intimidation cases, but even if the prison sentence imposed is not the maximum, the collateral consequences of a sex offense conviction are dire. If found guilty, the individual will have to register as a sex offender, which carries certain restrictions, obligations, and the obvious stigma for life.
Examples of Compelling a Prostitute in New York City
Examples of this offense can vary greatly. When society at large considers the crime of Compelling Prostitution, they tend to think of a teenager being abducted, physically abused, and forced to work as a prostitute under the threat of physical violence under the watchful eye of their captor. While that does fit the elements of the statute, that scenario is not always the case. A wide variety of situations can result in a person being charged under this statute.
A person who gets their hands on, or takes, some racy or embarrassing photos of an underage person and then blackmails that person into an act of prostitution can be convicted as well. A person can also be charged with this crime if he or she engages in extreme forms of bullying, calculated to erode the will of the other person, and break that person down until they will agree to do things they normally never would in order to gain approval. A New York City attorney could determine if the actions leading up to your charges constitute compelling prostitution.
Defenses for Compelling Prostitution
Because the punishment associated with this crime is so severe, knowing how to best defend against charges of Compelling Prostitution is vital. Unlike other types of cases, a prosecutor cannot successfully take a Compelling Prostitution case to trial with only NYPD witnesses. To prove the charges, the alleged victim will have to take the stand and testify. The single most important aspect of the defense is to destroy the credibility of this witness.
Demonstrating that the individual testifying against the defendant is lying, and forming a theory supporting that assertion, is paramount. There are any number of reasons a witness may be lying in this situation, but the most common reasons are that the individual was arrested for prostitution and is looking to cut a deal and lower their criminal exposure by shifting the blame, or even seeking revenge for some past altercation. Regardless of the reason, discrediting this key witness can be the difference between a lengthy jail sentence and walking out of the front of the courthouse after trial. An experienced lawyer in New York City could help someone prepare a defense for their compelling prostitution case.
What Does “Advancing Prostitution” Specifically Entail?
By the letter of the law, compelling prostitution involves someone “knowingly advancing prostitution” by forcing an underage individual to engage in prostitution. As per New York Penal Law §230.15, advancing prostitution can entail causing or helping a person to engage in prostitution, bringing in patrons, providing a space in which prostitution will occur, or assisting with the operation of a prostitution ring.
Importantly, a person does not need to “profit from prostitution,” as this same section defines it, to be charged with compelling prostitution. So long as they did something to “advance” a minor engaging in prostitution and used force or intimidation to do so, they may be charged with and convicted of compelling prostitution.
How Does Compelling Prostitution Differ from Sex Trafficking?
While sex trafficking of a child and compelling prostitution are similar in nature and can result in the same penalties, there are slightly different criteria for each charge. Most notably, while a person only has to advance prostitution in order to be charged with compelling prostitution, a conviction for sex trafficking of a minor requires the defendant to both advance prostitution and directly profit from that prostitution.
Unlike sex trafficking of an adult, there are no additional requirements for a charge of sex trafficking of a minor other than those noted above. A defendant does not need to transport the trafficked individual from one place to another, give them any drug or inhibiting substance, hold them against their will, or cause them physical injury—the fact that they are underage is enough. A local attorney with experience in compelling prostitution cases could further explain these differences.
Could a Prostitute Be an Accomplice to Compelling Prostitution?
Under New York Penal Law §230.35, individuals under 18 years who were compelled to engage in prostitution by another individual cannot face criminal charges for promoting or compelling prostitution. Similarly, a victim of sex trafficking cannot be held liable for their own trafficking or for the trafficking of anyone else the defendant compelled to engage in prostitution.
Speak with a New York City Compelling Prostitution Attorney Today
If you, or a loved one, has been arrested for Compelling Prostitution, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman immediately. We could investigate and examine every angle of your defense and determine the best way to proceed. Call one of our New York City compelling prostitution lawyers today.