New York’s prostitution laws define offenses that stem from the illegal act of engaging, or offering to engage, in sexual activity with another person for money. Separate but closely related offenses include compelling prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution, permitting prostitution, and sex trafficking.
- State Penalties for Prostitution:
Prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor and can be punished by up to three months in jail and a $500 fine, or both. If the act of prostitution occurs in a school zone, it is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $1,000 fine, or both. Promoting prostitution, which is a form of advancing or profiting from it, is also a Class A misdemeanor. Permitting prostitution is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to three months in jail, and applies when someone knowingly allows premises they own or control be used for purposes of prostitution. Patronizing a prostitute is a Class A misdemeanor, but if the prostitute is under 14 it becomes a Class E felony and can lead to 4 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. Patronizing a prostitute under the age of 11 is a Class D felony, punishable by 7 years’ imprisonment and a $5,000 fine. Anyone who patronizes a prostitute under 17 will be registered as a sex offender in New York. Compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution in the first degree, and sex trafficking are all Class B felonies that are punished by 3-25 years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
- When is the best time to act?:
When someone is charged with an offense related to prostitution, they should hire a criminal defense attorney right away, as a conviction can result in heavy fines, prison, job loss and registration as a sex offender.
- Related Crimes:
Rape, Assault, Criminal Sexual Act, Sexual Abuse, Assault, Coercion, Unlawful Imprisonment
- Difference between New York state and Federal statutes:
The Mann Act prohibits the transportation of any individual across state lines or from the U.S. o another country (and vice-versa) for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or any other sexual activity. The Act also applies when an adult takes an under-age person to a neighboring state for sexual purposes. It is even a federal crime to use the mail or telephone to facilitate the prohibited conduct. Another federal statute has made it an offense for anyone to engage in prostitution within a reasonable distance of any military facility. The Federal Act imposes a punishment of imprisonment for not more than five years in a federal prison, or fine, or both for a person found guilty under its provisions.
- Successful Defenses:
Arrest as a result of entrapment, invasion of privacy, and discriminatory investigative tactics are viable defenses. If the defendant did not have reason to believe that the prostitute was under 14 (or 11), they can offer a defense to patronizing a prostitute under those specified ages.
- High profile/Government cases:
On February 5, 2014, Taye Elleby, 36, was sentenced to to 10 ⅔-to-32 years in state prison for running a prostitution ring and directing a 17-year-old girl into prostitution. The jury in New York State Supreme Court found him guilty of Sex Trafficking as well as two counts each of Promoting Prostitution in the Second and Third Degrees.