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Applicability of New York’s Anti-Prostitution Laws to the Plaza Hotel Affair

Most of us have read about the recent Charlie Sheen affair at the Plaza Hotel. According to the New York Post, Sheen offered $12,000 for sex with actress Capri Anderson. Under New York’s Penal Law, Patronizing a Prostitute, PL 230.03:

A person is guilty of patronizing a prostitute in the fourth degree when he patronizes a prostitute.

The stand-alone charge is not helpful. However, we do get a full explanation of patronizing a prostitute in Penal Law 230.02:

A person patronizes a prostitute when:

(a) Pursuant to a prior understanding, he pays a fee to another person as compensation for such person or a third person having engaged in sexual conduct with him; or

(b) He pays or agrees to pay a fee to another person pursuant to an understanding that in return therefor such person or a third person will engage in sexual conduct with him; or

(c) He solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct with him in return for a fee.

Thus, if the Post story is to be taken at face value, the conduct alleged may make out a prima facie case of patronizing a prostitute. That is not to say, however, that Mr. Sheen will or should be arrested and charged. There are many variables that go into a case such as this, and a lot will depend on Ms. Anderson’s willingness to cooperate with the prosecution. If she were to choose not to speak with the police, it would be next to impossible to go forward with charges. And even if she did, the case would ultimately devolve into a he-said, she-said scenario that prosecutors try to avoid. Of course, if there were some corroboration for the arrangement, such as emails, text messages, or other memorializations of understandings between the “parties,” that would be different story. In the end, it will depend on the government’s desire to investigate and Ms. Anderson’s cooperation.

If you would like to learn more about the charge, or are facing criminal charges yourself, you should consult with the experienced former prosecutors at the Law Office of Matthew Galluzzo.

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