Permitting Prostitution Charges in New York City

Permitting Prostitution charges in New York City are unique in that it is the only prostitution-related crime which does not require that the defendant actively take part in, or benefit from, the transaction. It is also a crime of omission rather than a crime of commission.

According to New York Penal Law §230.40, a person can be convicted of Permitting Prostitution when that person knows that some property that they own or control is being used either for the purposes of prostitution or for advancing prostitution and they do not make a reasonable effort to put a stop to it.

This charge is primarily aimed at hotel owners/managers who know that their facilities are being used by prostitutes and who turn a blind eye because they draw some financial gain from the activity even though they are not directly involved in the deal.

What Must Be Established to Be Convicted of Permitting Prostitution Charges?

There are two key elements that a prosecutor in New York City must establish in order to secure a conviction for permitting prostitution. First, the prosecutor must prove that the individual had knowledge that the property was being used for prostitution or to advance sexual transactions.

An owner/manager cannot be convicted of Permitting Prostitution if they are unaware that some property that they possess or control is being utilized for that purpose. However, a prosecutor is permitted to demonstrate that a hotel owner/manager reasonably should have known that the accommodations were being used for prostitution. For instance, a prosecutor can introduce evidence of check-in and check-out times which are curiously close together, the same individuals staying at the hotel frequently but not consecutively and never booking a room for more than one night at a time, and a noticeable lack of luggage brought by the individuals renting the room.

Second, even if an individual knows that the location is being used for prostitution, they are not required to affirmatively prevent the act from taking place on their property, rather they must simply take reasonable steps to halt or end it.  The prosecutor is not required to show complicity by the owner/manager in advancing prostitution, but they are required to show no “reasonable” action was taken to put an end to it. If the defendant contacts law enforcement, or makes an effort to restrict suspected offenders by prohibiting entry or refusing service, then the defendant can successfully argue that reasonable efforts were made.  However, if the owner/manager is made aware that the property is being used for prostitution but ignores or makes only a nominal effort to end it, then they can be convicted.

Penalties in New York City

In New York City, Permitting Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Frequently, those charged under this statute are not normally involved with the criminal justice system and often will not have a criminal record as this crime requires no overt criminal act and generally concerns people who are lawfully employed. However, should an arrest for Permitting Prostitution result in a criminal conviction, the defendant is likely to lose their job and face difficulty finding new employment. Barriers may be put up at educational institutions, job training facilities, etc., and a person’s life can quickly and easily change drastically.

Contact a New York City Attorney to Discuss Permitting Prostitution Charges

If you are facing Permitting Prostitution charges in New York City, it is vital to hire a top attorney to protect your rights and your record. At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman, the experienced attorneys not only know the elements of Permitting Prostitution, but also know where the strongest defenses to the charges are. We can analyze your situation and investigate every aspect of your case and the prosecutor’s witnesses, exploiting any weakness in the government’s argument. Call us today for a free case evaluation.

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