Our New York Prostitution Defense Attorneys have extensive experience defending clients charged with prostitution and related offenses in state and federal court. If you of your loved one have been arrested for prostitution or prostitution-related offenses, please contact us today to schedule your initial consultation.

What is the Legal Definition of Prostitution?

Under New York Law, prostitution is defined as engaging or agreeing or offering to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. This definition is contained in New York Penal Law Section 230.00. This broad definition applies to all sorts of sexual conduct – from full-fledged sexual intercourse, to sexual satisfaction to the client (commonly referred to as a “John” through direct physical contact of some sort). Today, prostitution is illegal in the 49 states in the United States. It is only legal in Nevada, however it is strictly regulated by the state.

What Are New York Prostitution Charges?

New York Penal Law contains several prostitution charges. Specifically, they are:

  • Prostitution,
  • Patronizing a Prostitute,
  • Promoting Prostitution,
  • Compelling Prostitution, AND
  • Permitting Prostitution.

These charges are explained in greater detail below.

New York Prostitution

New York Prostitution charge is codified in New York Penal Law § 230.00. Under this statute, it is a crime to  engage, agree, or offer. to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for
a fee

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Prostitution Charges

Prostitution is a Class “B” Misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by up to 90 days in prison or 1 year of probation. However, if the conduct took place in a school zone (defined as within 1,000 feet of the school’s property line and includes playgrounds and buses), the offense is elevated to a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and up to 3 years probation. A fine of up to $500 may also be imposed.

How Does Being in a School Zone Enhance a Prostitution Charge?

To protect the best interests of children, New York Penal Law treats prostitution more harshly if it occurs someplace where school-age kids are likely to be nearby. 

Under New York Penal Law §230.03, it is a class A misdemeanor—punishable by up to one year in jail—for anyone to engage in prostitution in an area they know to be a “school zone” during any time of day in which school is in session. 

A “school zone” can be a structure, building, playground, playing field, or any other land within the property boundaries of a private or public educational facility. In addition, public or private property immediately adjacent to a school—including sidewalks, parking lots, and public parks—may also be considered a “school zone” in the context of this charge.

Although what would qualify as prostitution in a school zone seems self-explanatory based on the title, there are nuances to this charge that are important to understand.

The first important point is the definition of a school zone. A school zone will obviously encompass anything within the property of a school, including buildings, fields and other land. It also typically includes any public areas that are immediately adjacent to the school’s property boundary line. For example, if there’s a park right next to the school, that would also be considered a school zone. This can be true even if the land is private property. However, the exact definition of a school zone can vary depending on the location.

For a person to be guilty of committing prostitution in a school zone, the crime must meet a few requirements. It must be apparent enough that the area is a school zone for a reasonable person to realize that. If it’s unclear that the area is a school zone, the defendant could use that in their defense.

In most areas, the crime must occur either while school is in session or when there are likely to be minors around who could see the crime take place. If the crime occurred at 2 a.m., it’s unlikely that a charge of prostitution in a school zone would stick, because there weren’t any students or other minors around at that time.

Patronizing a Prostitute

This New York Prostitution charge applies to purchasing prostitute’s services. There are three different New York Patronizing a Prostitute charges. Specifically, they are:

  • Patronizing a Prostitute in the First Degree,
  • Patronizing a Prostitute in the Second Degree, AND
  • Patronizing a Prostitute in the Third Degree.

Patronizing a Prostitute in the Third Degree is the least serious of these charges, while Patronizing a Prostitute in the First Degree is the most serious of these charges. Generally speaking, Patronizing a Prostitute in the Third Degree is the charge that’s brought when the prostitute is of age. However, if you were over 18 years old at the time of the alleged crime, and the prostitute was younger than 14 years old, the offense is categorized as a Class “E” Felony. If the alleged prostitute was younger than 11 years old, the offense becomes a Class “D” Felony.

Sentencing and Penalties for New York Patronizing Charges

Patronizing a Prostitute in the Third Degree in violation of New York Penal Law §230.04 is a Class “A” Misdemeanor. As such, it is punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

Patronizing a Prostitute in the Second Degree is a Class “E” Felony and is charged when the Defendant is at least 18 years old and the alleged prostitute is younger than 14. This New York Prostitution charge is punishable by up to 1 1/3 to 4 years in jail.

Patronizing a Prostitute in the First Degree is a Class “D” Felony. This charge is brought when the Defendant is at least 18 years old and the alleged prostitute is younger than 11 years old. This charge is punishable by up to 2 1/3 to 7 years in jail.

Promoting Prostitution

Promoting Prostitution is another New York prostitution charge. It refers to deliberately profiting from prostitution. Additionally, this charge can also involve distributing “obscene material” (such as pornography), or intimidating or coercing victims aged 16 or older into prostitution.

New York Promoting Prostitution charges are codified in New York Penal Law Sections §230.19-§230.32 and range from Class “A” misdemeanors to Class “C” Felonies. As such, these charges can be punishable by up to one year in prison for Class “A” Misdemeanors to up to 15 years in prison for Class “C” felonies.

Compelling Prostitution

Compelling Prostitution charge is codified in New York Penal Law §230.33. Under New York Penal Law §230.33, a person is guilty of Compelling Prostitution when:

  • Being over the age of 18,
  • He or she knowingly advances prostitution,
  • By compelling a person less than eighteen years old,
  • By force or intimidation,
  • To engage in prostitution.

Sentencing and Penalties for Compelling Prostitution

Compelling Prostitution is a Class “B” non-violent felony. As such, this charge is punishable by 8 1/3 to 25 years in jail. Fines may also be imposed for convictions relating to Compelling Prostitution.

What are the penalties for prostitution in New York State?

An individual is guilty of the crime of prostitution when that person engages or agrees to engage in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for a fee. A defense to the charge of patronizing a prostitute in the first or second degree is lack of reasonable grounds to think that the prostitute was younger than the age that was provided. In New York State, prostitution is considered a Class B misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to three months in jail and/or up to a $500 fine.

Patronizing a prostitute is a Class A misdemeanor that is punishable by up to one year in prison and/or up to a $1,000 fine. Patronizing a prostitute is a Class E felony if the prostitute is under 14 years of age. A person found guilty of this crime could spend two to five years in prison. Permitting prostitution is a Class B felony that is punishable by up to three months in prison and/or up to a $500 fine.

What Are Some Defenses to New York Prostitution Charges?

Each prostitution case is unique and developing a well-thought out defense requires a lot of thinking and strategy from your New York Prostitution Defense Attorney. However, some common defenses to New York Prostitution charges are:

  • Lack of knowledge about the prostitute’s age. For example, if the prostitute was not advertised as being 13, looked older than 13, and did not tell the “John” that he or she was only 13, this could provide a defense to a charge of patronizing a prostitute under the age of 14 (or age 11). This defense only applies if the Defendant did not have reason to believe the prostitute was under the specified age.
  • Being compelled by threat or intimidation to engage in prostitution. This is an affirmative defense under New York Penal Law Section 230.01.That is to say, anyone compelled by threat or intimidation to engage in prostitution.

Contact Top-Rated New York Prostitution Defense Attorneys

If you or your loved one has been charged with or suspect that they are under investigation for prostitution or patronizing a prostitute, you need experienced counsel to defend you. Please contact our New York Prostitution Defense Attorneys to schedule your free initial consultation.