Prostitution, Pimping, and Pandering Laws in New Jersey

In New Jersey, a person commits the crime of prostitution by engaging in (or offering or accepting an offer to engage in) any sexual activity in exchange for money or something else of value. Sexual activity includes vaginal, oral, and anal sex, fondling, masturbation, and sadomasochistic activities. Under New Jersey’s prostitution law, it is illegal to buy or sell sex.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:34-1.)

For more general information on these types of laws, see Prostitution.

Loitering

It is also a crime in New Jersey to loiter for the purpose of prostitution. The following behavior may constitute loitering:

  • repeatedly gesturing to or stopping people on the streets or in cars, or
  • repeatedly attempting to stop others or engage them in conversation.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:34-1.1.)

For example, a person who stands on a street corner in an area known for prostitution and tries to stop drivers could probably be arrested for loitering.

Promoting Prostitution

Laws against promoting prostitution are aimed at third parties who benefit from, facilitate, promote, or make money from prostitution. Generally, the defendant must be aware that prostitution is occurring to be convicted of promoting.

For more information on laws against promoting prostitution, see Pimping and Pandering.

Under New Jersey’s laws, a person commits the crime of promoting prostitution by:

  • owning or managing a house of prostitution or a prostitution business
  • procuring a person for a house of prostitution
  • encouraging or otherwise causing another to become or remain a prostitute
  • soliciting a “john”
  • finding a prostitute for a “john”
  • transporting a person into or across New Jersey for the purpose of prostitution, or
  • allowing property under his or her control to be used for the purpose of prostitution with his or her knowledge and without making any effort to stop it.

If a person (other than a prostitute or a prostitute’s child) is supported by money earned from prostitution, then that person is deemed to be promoting prostitution.

Examples of people who could be convicted of promoting prostitution include:

  • a pimp who takes a portion of a prostitute’s earnings
  • a hotel employee who arranges for a prostitute to visit a guest, or
  • a landlord who rents a trailer to someone knowing that the tenant will engage in prostitution there.

In New Jersey, it is also a crime to promote the prostitution of your spouse, or to compel another to engage in or promote prostitution.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:34-1.)

Racketeering

A person who engages in two or more incidents of promoting prostitution within ten years can also be charged with racketeering (organized crime) under New Jersey’s laws.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § § 2C:41-1, 2C:41-2.)

For more information on state racketeering charges, see State RICO Laws.

Child Prostitution

In New Jersey, it is a crime to:

  • promote the prostitution of a child under the age of 18
  • promote the prostitution of your child or any child for which you are responsible
  • engage in prostitution with a child
  • solicit a child for prostitution, or
  • enter a house of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:34-1.)

Defenses

It is a defense to a charge of prostitution, promoting prostitution, or child prostitution that the defendant was a victim of human trafficking or was under the age of 18.

It is not a defense to a charge of child prostitution that the defendant had a reasonable but mistaken belief that the child was 18 years or older.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:34-1.)

Punishment

Prostitution is a disorderly persons offense, punishable by six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Second and subsequent offenses are fourth degree offenses, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

If a person uses a vehicle to commit prostitution, the court must also suspend the person’s driver’s license for six months.

Loitering is also a disorderly persons offense.

Child prostitution. Promoting the prostitution of your child or any child is a crime in the second degree, punishable by five to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $150,000.

Other child prostitution offenses are crimes in the third degree, punishable by three to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.

Promoting. Promoting the prostitution of your spouse and compelling another to engage in (or promote) prostitution, owing or managing a house prostitution or prostitution business, procuring a person for a house of prostitution, and encouraging or otherwise causing another to become or remain a prostitute are crimes in the third degree, punishable by three to five years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $15,000.

Other types of promoting are crimes in the fourth degree, punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

Racketeering is a second degree crime, punishable by five to ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $150,000, and any money earned from racketeering can be forfeited (seized by the state without compensation to the owner).

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § § 2C:34-1, 2C:34-1.1, 2C:41-3, 2C:43-3, 2C:43-6, 2C:43-8.)

Sex offender registration

A person convicted of promoting the prostitution of a child is required to register as a sex offender under New Jersey’s laws.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2C:7-2.)

Eviction

Anyone who uses property that he or she is renting to engage in prostitution voids the lease and can be evicted by the landlord.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 46:8-8.)

Job loss

New Jersey schools may not employ anyone who is convicted of a second degree crime or a fourth degree crime involving a child victim.

(N.J. Stat. Ann. § 18A:6-7.1.)

Similar laws may apply to other jobs.

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

Being convicted of prostitution or a related crime can have serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact a New Jersey criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court depending on the facts and the judge and prosecutor assigned to your case and help you achieve the best possible outcome.

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