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New York Prostitution Laws

State prostitution laws target a number of offenses stemming from the prohibited act of engaging, or agreeing or offering to engage, in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. Nevada is the only state where prostitution is legal, albeit highly regulated (although it is illegal within Las Vegas city limits). Prostitution laws generally prohibit the promotion of prostitution (also called pandering or "pimping"), solicitation of prostitution, and related offenses in addition to charges against prostitutes themselves.

New York Prostitution Laws at a Glance

Although the New York Penal Code does not define "sexual conduct" in its prostitution statute, such conduct has been described by state courts to include a wide range of sexual acts, and even some clothed physical contact. Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor. New York additionally criminalizes the separate offenses of patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution, sex trafficking, and permitting prostitution.

Statute

New York Penal Code Article 230, et seq.

Statutory Definition of Prostitution

A person is guilty of prostitution when such person engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.

Defenses to Prostituion Charges

Lack of reasonable grounds to believe that the prostitute was younger than the age specified (for patronizing a prostitute in the first or second degree)

Statutory Definition of Patronizing a Prostitute (Solicitation)

A person patronizes a prostitute when:

  • Pursuant to a prior understanding, he pays a fee to another person as compensation for such person or a third person having engaged in sexual conduct with him; or
  • He pays or agrees to pay a fee to another person pursuant to an understanding that in return therefor such person or a third person will engage in sexual conduct with him; or
  • He solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct with him in return for a fee.

As used in this article, “person who is patronized” means the person with whom the defendant engaged in sexual conduct or was to have engaged in sexual conduct pursuant to the understanding, or the person who was solicited or requested by the defendant to engage in sexual conduct.

Penalties and Sentences
  • Prostitution: Class B misdemeanor (up to 3 mos. in jail and/or up to $500 fine)
  • Patronizing a Prostitute: Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 yr. in prison and/or up to $1,000 fine); Class E felony if prostitute is less than 14 yrs. of age (2 to 5 yrs. in prison)
  • Permitting Prostitution: Class B misdemeanor (up to 3 mos. in jail and/or up to $500 fine)
  • Promoting Prostitution: Class A misdemeanor (up to 1 yr. in prison and/or up to $1,000 fine)
  • Compelling Prostitution: Class B felony (3 to 25 yrs. in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine)
  • Sex Trafficking: Class B felony (3 to 25 yrs. in prison and/or up to $5,000 fine)

Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact a New York criminal attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Additional Prostitution-Related Offenses

A person is guilty of promoting prostitution in the fourth degree when he or she knowingly "advances or profits from prostitution." A person acting other than as a prostitute or patron "advances prostitution" when he or she "knowingly causes or aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution, procures or solicits patrons for prostitution, provides persons or premises for prostitution purposes, operates or assists in the operation of a house of prostitution or a prostitution enterprise, or engages in any other conduct designed to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution."

Profiting from prostitution entails the acceptance of money or something of value pursuant to an agreement with any person who participates in the proceeds of prostitution activity and is acting other than as a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered services.

The crime of compelling prostitution occurs when a person 21 years of age or older "knowingly advances prostitution by compelling a person less than 16 years old, by force or intimidation, to engage in prostitution."

Finally, a person is guilty of permitting prostitution when, having possession or control of a premises which he or she knows is being used for prostitution purposes, the person "fails to make reasonable effort to halt or abate such use."

New York Prostitution Laws: Related Resources

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You could be charged with a prostitution-related offense for a number of acts, including the act of soliciting a prostitute or profiting from one. In any event, you have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges. Have a New York defense attorney evaluate the merits of your case with a free case review.

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