Before the War on Drugs, there was the War on Prostitution and New York City was the epicenter of it. People v. Smith, 44 N.Y.2d 613, 617-18 (1978) (noting the difficulties of law enforcement to stem the “profligate spread of the world’s oldest profession and its attendant evils in our central cities” as the reason behind proliferation of prostitution offenses). Although clearly no longer the presence on the urban street corners of Manhattan as it once was, prosecutions for prostitution and derivative offenses continue in waves in New York today.
Today’s prostitution rings, as witnessed by top New York criminal defense lawyers, are no longer the organized crime syndicates and illegal gangs of yesteryears but rather come in the form of sophisticated and tech-savvy corporations offering high-priced escort and massage services over the internet. Logically then, when prostitution crimes are prosecuted today, it is often the unsuspecting who end up ensnared in the state’s charges. As for the police, they are no longer making their rounds looking for prostitution on the corners of Manhattan and Brooklyn but now online “on Craigslist and other Web sites.” People v. Ahmed, 72 A.D.3d 502 (1st Dep’t. 2010).
Under the various provisions of Section 230 of the New York Penal Law, any knowing participant in an enterprise involving the sale of sex or companionship may be conceivably arrested and charged with a litany of misdemeanor and felony offenses for their alleged role in prostitution. Those susceptible to being charged criminally include not only the usual suspects of prostitution such as patrons (colloquially known as Johns), madams, pimps, prostitutes and call girls but also the unsuspecting, such as landlords and others with “legitimate business.” People v. Telles, 48 Misc. 3d 1070, 1073 (Queens Co. Crim. Ct. 2015). In fact, if there is an argument to be made – and evidence to support it – that an individual or corporation was set up as or assisted an enterprise of prostitution they, and any employees, can be charged with one or more of these following crimes, either as a direct participant or as an accomplice.New York Prostitution Crimes & Offenses
- New York Penal Law § 230.00 — Prostitution
- New York Penal Law §§ 230.02 – 230.06 — Patronizing a Prostitute
- New York Penal Law §§ 230.15 – 230.32 — Promoting Prostitution
- New York Penal Law § 230.33 — Compelling Prostitution
- New York Penal Law § 230.34 — Sex Trafficking
- New York Penal Law § 230.40 — Permitting Prostitution
A violation of any of these aforementioned crimes carries serious and potentially life-altering penalties. Ranging from B misdemeanors to B felonies, a conviction in New York for a prostitution offense can result in incarceration ranging from 90 days in jail to 25 years in a state corrections facility. Additionally, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, a conviction for patronizing or promoting prostitution may require registration as a Sex Offender rendering you, for all intents and purposes, unemployable and a villain to the community.
And if you are alleged to be involved in a more complex or sophisticated prostitution ring or racket, there is a greater possibility that additional crimes may be charged as well as possible federal intervention. These additional crimes range from an A misdemeanor to a B felony and include:
- New York Penal Law § 460.20 — Enterprise Corruption
- New York Penal Law §§ 175.05 – 175.10 — Falsifying Business Records
- New York Penal Law § 470.00, et seq — Money Laundering
As law enforcement’s tactics investigating these cases are becoming increasingly sophisticated and deceptive, retaining top New York criminal attorneys with experience defending complex investigations – where wiretaps and undercover agents are the norm – is more essential now than ever before when defending state prostitution charges. Contact one of our top New York criminal defense attorneys today at the Law Offices of Jeffrey Lichtman. The sooner you engage us, the more effective we can be in defending you from these serious charges.