Westchester County Prostitution Lawyer
Most people understand that the basic concept of exchanging sex for money—more commonly known as prostitution—is illegal under New York Penal Law. However, the legislature has expanded the scope of illegal activities to include profiting from and/or promoting prostitution as well. In many instances, the activities peripheral to prostitution are more serious allegations than the act itself.
If you are charged with any allegation involving prostitution, it may be vital that you obtain legal representation dedicated to defending your freedoms in court. No matter the exact nature of your circumstances, a Westchester County prostitution lawyer may be able to help by working towards a fair plea deal or defending you at trial. Contact a savvy criminal attorney right away.
How is Prostitution Legally Defined?
According to New York Penal Law §230.00, it is a class B misdemeanor for any person to exchange a sex act for money. This classification means that a conviction can result in a jail term of up to three months or probation of up to one year.
Importantly, the law does provide an affirmative defense for people charged with prostitution. An affirmative defense means that a person admits that they committed an illegal act, but that they had a legal justification to do so. Under New York Penal Law §230.01, a person may have a charge of prostitution dismissed if they can prove they were the victim of compelled prostitution or sex trafficking.
Additional Prostitution-Related Crimes
More serious than charges of engaging in prostitution are allegations that a person promoted prostitution. This can include various activities such as:
- Profiting from prostitution as a pimp
- Supervising prostitution activities
- Using drugs to compel another person into prostitution
The most basic version of these crimes is promoting prostitution in the fourth degree. As enumerated in New York Penal Law §230.20, this involves profiting from another person’s prostitution or the distribution of obscene materials intended to promote prostitution. In Westchester County, this is a class A misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail upon conviction.
Felony Crimes Involving Sex in Exchange for Money
There are also a number of aggravating factors that can raise prostitution-related charges to the level of a felony. These include:
- Controlling a house of prostitution
- Compelling a person under 19 years old into prostitution
- Forcing a person into prostitution through intimidation
The most serious allegation involving compelling others into prostitution is known as sex trafficking, which is a class B felony according to New York Penal Law §230.34. This means that a conviction can result in a prison sentence of up to 25 years.
What is the Difference Between Prostitution and Solicitation?
While the terms prostitution and solicitation are often used together, they represent two very different criminal offenses. Prostitution is the act of offering sex in exchange for money or a thing of value. Soliciting a prostitute involves offering money or a thing of value in exchange for sex. In other words, these offenses are two sides to the same criminal act.
When Can Entrapment Be a Viable Defense to Prostitution Charges?
One uncommon defense strategy that could be viable in a prostitution charge is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when the defendant is tricked or coerced into committing a crime as a means of securing their prosecution and conviction. Entrapment defenses involving prostitution cases often involve prostitution stings. These stings involve a police officer pretending to be a potential customer. If a person offers that officer sex in exchange for money, an arrest can be made.
A problem arises when the offer for sex in exchange for money is only made following pressure or manipulation from the officer. If the defendant felt threatened, coerced, or tricked into violating the law, an entrapment defense could be their best option. It is the defendant’s burden to prove to the jury that this defense applies. If the jury agrees that the defendant was compelled or forced through threats or fear, they are empowered to acquit that individual even if all of the elements of the offense have been met. An attorney in Westchester County could determine if entrapment might be a viable defense in a specific prostitution case.
Consulting an Attorney About Prostitution Accusations
While the act of participating in prostitution is a misdemeanor-level allegation, the act of promoting or profiting from another’s prostitution is far more serious. No matter the exact nature of the charges, a Westchester County prostitution lawyer could help you form a powerful defense in court. Every stage of a criminal case is vital, and time is often of the essence, so contact our firm today to get started on your case.