New York's prostitution law applies to people who sell or offer to sell sex. People who want to buy the services of a prostitute can be convicted of patronizing. Another set of laws applies to individuals who recruit prostitutes (pandering) and those who take a cut of a prostitute's earnings (pimping).
This article will review New York's laws on prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, and promoting prostitution.
In New York, a person commits the crime of prostitution by engaging or offering to engage in any sex act for a fee. Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor.
Prostitution committed by a person age 19 or older near a school during school hours or where school children can see the act of prostitution is a class A misdemeanor.
The law provides an affirmative defense to prostitution charges if the person was a victim of sex trafficking or was forced into prostitution.
(N.Y. Penal Law §§ 230.00, 230.01, 230.03 (2022).)
A person (sometimes called a "john" or "patron") commits the crime of patronizing prostitution by:
Penalties for patronizing a prostitute range from a class A misdemeanor to a class D felony, depending on the age of the defendant and victim. If the prostitute was an adult, class A misdemeanor penalties apply. A patron will face felony penalties if:
If the sexual conduct occurred and the victim was a minor, a patron faces a class B, D, or E felony based on the following factors:
(N.Y Penal Law §§ 230.02, 230.05, 230.06, 230.08, 230.11, 230.12, 230.13 (2022).)
Laws against promoting prostitution (also called pimping or pandering) are aimed at third parties who facilitate or make money from the prostitution of others. Penalties for these crimes start as class A misdemeanors. However, felony penalties apply when victims are younger than 19, as follows:
Sex trafficking and compelling prostitution by force or intimidation are also both class B felonies.
People convicted of patronizing or promoting prostituted children younger than 17 are required to register as sex offenders in New York.
(N.Y Corr. Law §§ 168-A, 168-F (2022).)
Being convicted of prostitution, patronizing, or promoting prostitution 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 York criminal defense attorney. An attorney can tell your case is likely to fare in court and help you achieve the best possible outcome.