Prostitution has always been a hotly debated topic. Even though prostitution, which encompasses many sexual acts in addition to intercourse, is illegal, many women view it as an easily accessible form of income. This means they risk their freedom to earn a livelihood and may be unaware of the exact consequences related to these “victimless” crimes.
New York Prostitution Laws at a Glance
Under the New York Penal Code, every aspect of prostitution is criminalized. Under these rules, the individual offering services as a prostitute and the individual paying for those services are both in violation of the law. Specifically, the law seeks to penalize anyone involved in the patronizing, promotion, compulsion, or the granting of permission of prostitution.
The law makes it illegal to engage in sexual acts for money. It’s also a crime to make an agreement for prostitution or simply to offer sexual services for money. This means making a proposition for sex in exchange of money is a crime in itself. Agreeing to that proposition comprises another crime, allowing the state to file criminal charges against both the prostitute and the patron.
Most prostitution charges are a class B misdemeanor, carrying a jail term of up to 90 days. The charge can be aggravated by special circumstances, however. For instance, if an individual is over the age of 19 and is caught offering her prostitution services in a school zone, she may be charged with a class A misdemeanor. This offense carries a term of up to one year of imprisonment. For the purposes of this law, a school zone comprises any land owned by the school, including playgrounds, parking lots, sidewalks, fields, and buildings.
What Does It Mean to Patronize a Prostitute?
Patronizing a prostitute can result in three distinct charges. Third degree patronizing of a prostitute is a class A misdemeanor and involves paying or agreeing to pay someone under the age of 17 in exchange for sexual services. The defendant must be over the age of 21 under this charge.
A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail or three years of probation. A fine of up to $1,000 may also apply.
Second degree patronization of a prostitute is a class E felony. This charge applies to defendants 18 or older who have been charged for patronizing a prostitute 14 years old or younger.
A class E felony conviction carries a prison term of two to five years.
A first degree charge of this offense involves patronizing a prostitute under the age of 11. As a class D felony, a conviction carries a sentence of up to seven years in prison.
There Are Ways to Defend Against a Prostitution Charge
While most people probably assume a prostitution charge is pretty cut and dried, there are ways to defend against such allegations. The most common defense is by alleging entrapment. Because of the way in which law enforcement conducts undercover investigations, law abiding citizens may be tricked, or entrapped, into engaging in prostitution agreements.
There’s also a defense of legal impossibility, as it relates to digital media. When sexual acts are conducted via electronic media, it does not constitute a crime. Similarly, a law enforcement officer pretending to be a minor on the internet may also open up a case to this defense.
In some cases where an adult is charged with engaging in illicit sexual conduct with a minor, the defendant may only need to prove that he or she believed the minor was an adult. Proving that the other person was legally able to give consent may be enough to have these charges dismissed.
Additionally, a lack of evidence or a mistake in the arrest procedure may also result in either a case dismissal or an acquittal.
There are many other possible defenses against prostitution charges, some of which the public may not know. The course of action in the event that you are charged with a crime under New York’s prostitution laws is to consult an experienced attorney. By going over the specific details of your case with a skilled defense attorney, you can learn more about your chances for a case dismissal, acquittal, or a reduced sentence.