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Prostitution and Related Offenses

A person is guilty of prostitution (PL 230.00) when he/she engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. Note that a person need not actually complete the sexual act to be guilty of this Class B misdemeanor – the mere offer or agreement is criminal. Also, a person is guilty of Patronizing a Prostitute when he pays, agrees to pay, or solicits a prostitute for sexual conduct in exchange for a fee. There are four degrees of the crime of Patronizing a Prostitute – ranging from a Class B misdemeanor to Class D felony – that depend upon the age of the prostitute that is patronized; the most serious level involves the patronization of a prostitute younger than eleven.

In addition, however, the police can arrest someone for “working the streets” as a prostitute or for actively shopping for a prostitute. Indeed, a person can be guilty of Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in a Prostitution Offense if he/she remains or wanders about in a public place and repeatedly beckons to, or repeatedly stops, or repeatedly attempts to stop, or repeatedly attempts to engage passers-by in conversation, or repeatedly stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles, or repeatedly interferes with the free passage of others persons for the purpose of prostitution or patronizing a prostitute (PL 240.37). This charge is a violation – i.e. a non-criminal offense – for first-time offenders, but becomes a Class B misdemeanor thereafter.

It is also a crime to act as a pimp or madam. Specifically, the four degrees of Promoting Prostitution make it illegal to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution. First Degree Promoting Prostitution (230.32) makes it a Class B felony to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution of a person less than eleven years old, whereas Second Degree (230.30) makes it a Class C felony to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution of a person less than sixteen years old and Third Degree makes it a Class D felony to promote a prostitute less than nineteen years old (230.25). Furthermore, it is a Class B felony to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution that is compelled through force or intimidation (230.30). Finally, managing, supervising, or owning a brothel or “house of prostitution” – and thereby profiting from the prostitution of two or more persons – can subject a person to arrest for Promoting Prostitution in the Third Degree, a Class D felony (230.25).

Key Penal Law Provisions:

  • Prostitution, PL 230.00, a class B misdemeanor
  • Loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense, PL 240.37, a violation or class B misdemeanor or class A misdemeanor
  • Patronizing a prostitute in the fourth degree, PL 230.03, a class B misdemeanor
  • Patronizing a prostitute in the third degree, PL 230.04, a class A misdemeanor
  • Patronizing a prostitute in the second degree, PL 230.05, a class E felony
  • Patronizing a prostitute in the first degree, PL 230.06 a class D felony
  • Promoting prostitution in the fourth degree, PL 230.20, a class A misdemeanor
  • Promoting prostitution in the third degree, PL 230.25, a class D felony
  • Promoting prostitution in the second degree, PL 230.30, a class C felony
  • Promoting prostitution in the first degree, PL 230.32, a class B felony
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