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Manhattan Desk Appearance Tickets for Patronizing a Prostitute (Penal Law 230.04)

The New York City criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have represented many people arrested and given Desk Appearance Tickets for patronizing a prostitute in Manhattan (Penal Law 230.04). These cases can be highly embarrassing and they sometimes cause real damage to reputations, careers, and family relationships. However, a skillful attorney can help a defendant emerge without a criminal record.

These cases usually arise out of undercover sting operations by the NYPD. In those cases, an undercover officer pretending to be prostitute wears a recording device and comes to an agreement with another person to perform a sexual act in exchange for money. The offer to pay or an agreement alone can be sufficient proof of the crime. Indeed, Penal Law 230.02 defines a person as being guilty of patronizing a prostitute when:  “(a) Pursuant to prior understanding, he or she pays a fee to another person as compensation for such person or a third person having engaged in sexual conduct with him or her; (b) He or she 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 her; or (c) He or she solicits or requests another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her in return for a fee.”

The most common charge for such a Desk Appearance Ticket in Manhattan is Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Third Degree, in violation of Penal Law Section 230.04. This charge is a class A misdemeanor, meaning that it can result in a permanent criminal record and has a maximum possible jail penalty of one year.

In Manhattan, a person charged via Desk Appearance Ticket with a violation of Penal Law Section 230.04 is likely to be offered a plea bargain. The attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP have been successful in many cases in persuading prosecutors to dismiss the misdemeanor charge in exchange for a plea to a violation like Disorderly Conduct (Penal Law 240.20). This charge is not permanently public and does not constitute a conviction for a crime under New York State law. Offenders have generally had to perform some community service and/or attend a Health Education class regarding prostitution. This result spares the accused the drawn-out process of a trial and eliminates the uncertainty that comes with a trial; as such, most of our clients have availed themselves of such arrangements.

Many people arrested for patronizing a prostitute believe that they were unfairly entrapped. Entrapment is a valid defense under New York State law and can apply in certain situations involving these charges. However, it is typically very difficult to prevail with an entrapment defense, as an accused is essentially forced to demonstrate that the undercover police officer overcame his will and coerced him into agreeing to pay money for sex. Notably, the conversations between the accused and the undercover police officer are usually recorded.

Sometimes the NYPD conducts long-term investigations of escort services, brothels, or other prostitution conspiracies, and arrests johns after arresting the prostitutes and organizers (pimps). This type of charge is uncommon, however. Proof in those sorts of cases typically consists of phone records, wiretap information and/or proof of payment.

If you or a loved one have been arrested and given a Desk Appearance Ticket for a prostitution-related offense in Manhattan, you should strongly consider contacting the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Galluzzo & Arnone LLP. Their team consists of two former Manhattan prosecutors (including one former sex crimes prosecutor) who have handled numerous such cases over the course of their almost 40 years of combined experience.