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New York Lawyer Explains Violation of NY Penal Law 230.04


New York Penal Law 230.04: Patronizing a Prostitute and Your NY Criminal Defense

The world’s oldest profession is still illegal in New York. What many people do not realize, however, is that prostitutes, pimps (or madams), and johns can all be arrested and convicted under New York state law without any sexual conduct taking place or any money exchanging hands. The state laws concerning prostitution in New York are contained in Penal Law Chapter 230.

A person is guilty of this Class B misdemeanor when he or she “engages or agrees or offers to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee.” Thus, it is important to recognize that it makes no difference whether the accused actually received money or engaged in any criminal sexual act, the mere offer of sexual services for money is just as serious under this section. Also, notably, the definition of “sexual conduct” as defined in Penal Law Section 130.00[3] and 130.00[10]) includes sexual intercourse, oral sexual conduct, anal sexual conduct, aggravated sexual contact, and sexual contact. Put plainly, the laws of this chapter apply to virtually all and any sexual touching of any kind.

On the otherside, a john that pays or offers to pay for sexual services of any kind is also guilty of at least the Class B misdemeanor of Penal Law 230.03 (Patronizing a Prostitute in the Fourth Degree). This crime can be a more serious felony where the prostitutes are underage. At one time, it was a defense to these more serious charges that the john did not have a reasonable cause to believe that the prostitute was underage but today, it is no longer defense.

Finally, promoting prostitution, or “pimping,” as it is sometimes referred to, is illegal under Penal Law Section 230.20. That Class A misdemeanor, Promoting Prostitution in the Fourth Degree, makes it illegal to knowingly advance or profit from prostitution. Under Penal Law Section 230.15, a person “advances prostitution” when, acting other than as a prostitute or as a patron thereof, he or she 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 or she 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.

Being convicted of prostitution or patronizing can have serious consequences, including time in prison or jail, a fine, and a criminal record. If you are charged with a crime, you should contact a New York Criminal Defense Attorney at Stephen Bilkis and Associates. Visit their offices located around New York for free legal assistance.

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