Prostitution and the Super Bowl in New York
(written by Laura Monagle)
The story broke this morning of the Organized Crime Task Force and NYPD
bust of a multimillion-dollar prostitution and drug ring, which had hoped
to cash in on wealthy visitors to the City around the Super Bowl. The
NYPD arrested 18 operators of the ring, as well as ten women accused of
being sex workers. It was also announced today that the NYPD had arrested
87 johns, who were busted by an undercover operation in which police officers
posed as sex workers.
Each of these groups of individuals (the alleged operators, sex workers,
and johns) will face a different set of charges.
Operators of prostitution rings face a multitude of charges, which could
vary depending on the circumstances.
New York Penal Law ("Penal Law") sets out the offenses of promoting
prostitution (§230.19-230.32), compelling prostitution (§230.33),
and sex trafficking (§230.34).
Two important definition relate to the offense of promoting prostitution;
under §230.15, a person 'advances prostitution' when, acting
other than as a prostitute or as a patron thereof, they knowingly causes
or aids a person to commit or engage in prostitution, procures or solicits
patrons for prostitution, provides persons or premises for prostitution
purposes, operates or assists in the operation of a house of prostitution
or a prostitution enterprise, or engages in any other conduct designed
to institute, aid or facilitate an act or enterprise of prostitution;
a person 'profits from prostitution' when, acting other than as
a prostitute receiving compensation for personally rendered prostitution
services, he accepts or receives money or other property pursuant to an
agreement or understanding with any person whereby he participates or
is to participate in the proceeds of prostitution activity. There are
four sub-sections relating to this defense - first to fourth degree. The
difference between the four degrees depends on the role of the defendant
(management/supervision versus compelling via force or intimidation) in
the operation, and/or the age of the prostitute in question. Promoting
prostitution in the fourth degree is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone
charged under this section faces one year imprisonment. Promoting prostitution
in the third degree is a class D felony, and anyone charged under this
section faces seven years imprisonment. Promoting prostitution in the
second degree is a class C felony, and anyone charged under this section
faces fifteen years imprisonment. Promoting prostitution in the first
degree is a class B felony, and anyone charged under this section faces
twenty-five years imprisonment.
Penal Law §230.33 sets out the offense of compelling prostitution,
in which the defendant being older than the age of 21 years advances prostitution
by compelling through force or intimidation a person less than the age
of 16 years to engage in prostitution. This offense is a class B felony,
and anyone charged under this section faces twenty-five years imprisonment.
The offense of sex trafficking is extensively set out in §230.34.
There are several ways in which a person could commit the offense of sex
trafficking - (1) unlawfully providing to a patronized person a narcotic
drug, concentrated cannabis, methadone or GBH with the intent to impair
that person's judgment - (2) making false statement to induce a patronized
person into engaging in prostitution - (3) withholding or destroying a
passport or immigration with the intent to impair a person's freedom
to move - (4) requiring the performance of prostitution to repay a purported
debt - (5) use of force against a patronized person to engage in prostitution
by means of instilling fear of causing some future damage to that person.
This offense is a class B felony, and anyone charged under this section
faces twenty-five years imprisonment.
Under Penal Law §230.00, engaging in, agreeing to, or offering to
engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money is sufficient to constitute
prostitution. This is a class B misdemeanor, and anyone charged under
this section faces three months imprisonment.
Defendants facing charges of prostitution should to keep in mind that accepting
a plea of guilty or being found guilty of prostitution can have negative
immigration consequences for non-citizens. Prostitution is a ground for
inadmissibility and deportation under the Immigration and Nationality Act.
Penal Law §230.02 defines 'patronizing a prostitute' as -
(a) a person paying a fee to another person as compensation for such person
or a third person having engaged in sexual conduct with him, or - (b)
a person paying or agreeing to pay a fee to another person pursuant to
an understanding that in return therefore such a person or a third person
will engage in sexual conduct with him, or - (c) soliciting or requesting
another person to engage in sexual conduct with them in return for a fee.
Depending on the age of the prostitute, there are three different sub-sections
relating to this offense - third degree (prostitute over the age of 18
years), second degree (prostitute less than the age of 14 years), and
first degree (prostitute less than the age of eleven years). Patronizing
a prostitute in the third degree is a class A misdemeanor, and anyone
charged under this section faces one year imprisonment. Patronizing a
prostitute in the second degree is a class E felony, and anyone charged
under this section faces four years imprisonment. Patronizing a prostitute
in the first degree is a class D felony, and anyone charged under this
section faces seven years imprisonment.
There is a defense available under §230.07, where the defendant did
not have reasonable grounds to believe that the person was less than the
Under §230.10, it is not a defense that the persons were of the same
sex, or that the person who received, agreed to or solicited the fee was
male and the person who paid or agreed or offered to pay such fee was a female.
All of the above offenses are serious. If you are facing any of the above
charges, you should contact an experienced attorney immediately.