Promoting Prostitution: New York Penal Law §§ 230.15 - 230.32
In New York, the charge of Promoting Prostitution is focused not on the individual actually committing the sexual acts for money, but rather the individual who either organizes or initiates the transaction on behalf of the prostitute. In layman's terms, these people are referred to as "pimps" or "madams." These individuals are primarily the people who benefit from the prostitutes' actions and take a percentage of the money received, either by force or voluntarily given, because they either provide protection, a location, an organization that solicits clients, etc.
Through Hollywood and the media, people generally have an impression that pimps are violent and abusive and that madams are elegant, refined and provide huge mansions for prostitutes to use. These stereotypes are certainly true in some cases, but are far from universal. A person can be charged with Promoting Prostitution under a number of circumstances, some (but not all) involve violence, coercion, and/or operating brothels. There are four degrees of Promoting Prostitution, and they range from misdemeanor to serious felony.Promoting Prostitution in the Fourth Degree: NYPL § 230.20
A prosecutor can charge Promoting Prostitution in the Fourth Degree when an individual advances or profits from prostitution. Essentially this means that any individual who either financially benefits from prostitution, or who in some way is involved in negotiating the transaction can be charged. This lowest level charge concerning Promoting Prostitution is a class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to one year in jail.Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree: NYPL § 230.25
There are two common ways to be charged under this statute. The first is to knowingly operate a brothel, or any house or business enterprise engaged in prostitution activity involving two or more prostitutes. Despite society generally associating this charge with females, there is no requirement that the owner or organizer of the brothel be a woman. Knowledge that the location is being used for prostitution is required, thus the individual cannot be convicted if he or she merely owns a property but has no knowledge of its day-to-day operations, and which someone else is covertly using as a prostitution den. The second way a person can be charged under this statute is to advance or profit from prostitution when the prostitute is under 19 years old. When dealing with a prostitute's age, ignorance is not a defense. So even if the prostitute looks older, and the defendant genuinely believes he or she is over 19 years old, if that prostitute is under 19, the individual promoting prostitution can be convicted under this statute. Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree is a class D felony and is punishable by up to seven years in prison.Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree: NYPL § 230.30
This is what the public generally thinks of as the anti-pimping statute. A person can be convicted of this crime if they compel a person by force or intimidation to engage in prostitution, or they profit from such coercive activity by another. Courts in New York have interpreted "force or intimidation" loosely to include more than physical threats. An overpowering of an individual's will, even without the overt threat of bodily harm, is sufficient to establish coercion in circumstances like Blackmail. Alternatively, a person can be charged and convicted of this offense if they advance or profit from prostitution where the prostitute is less than 16 years old. Promoting Prostitution in the Second Degree is a class C felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in prison.Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree: NYPL § 230.32
A person is guilty of Promoting Prostitution in the First Degree when that person knowingly advances or profits from the prostitution of a person who is less than 11 years old. As is the case with every charge that involves the specific age of the prostitute, being honestly mistaken about the prostitute's age does not matter for the purpose of the crime charged. The legislature in New York considered it a grave offense to benefit from the prostitution of an individual so young. This is a class B felony and is punishable by up to 25 years in prison.
Because of the nature of the offense, people who are charged with Promoting Prostitution, in any degree, are already starting their case off at a disadvantage. Unlike cases dealing with drugs or assaults, there is a moral outrage that the public expresses at individuals who profit from the world's oldest profession. They are perceived as manipulative, often violent individuals who prey on the weak and force people into lives of selling their bodies for money. If you have been charged with Promoting Prostitution the most important thing to do is immediately start to work on rehabilitating that perception and showing that the witnesses against you are not trustworthy.
At the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman, the experienced Prostitution attorneys have a deep understanding of the issues concerning Promoting Prostitution and the best way to effectively fight the charges. Naturally, in Promoting Prostitution cases the chief witness against you will likely be the prostitute(s) of which you are alleged to have benefitted; therefore, destroying the credibility of those witnesses is paramount. We research and investigate every allegation and witness, finding facts and background information other attorneys may miss, which may be the difference between a witness against you coming across as sympathetic or as an opportunistic liar, and could be the difference between jail time and walking away from the case with your freedom. Call us today at (212) 581-1001 for a free case evaluation.