Prostitution

Prostitution is not treated kindly under New York law. A person who agrees to engage or offer sexual conduct for anything of value is may be charged with prostitution. The legal system of New York sees prostitution as a complex crime that may lead to a furtherance in criminal behavior. Due to this, the crime of prostitution has harsh penalties such as large fines and even incarceration.

Additionally, a person can be charged with a related prostitution crime without engaging in any sexual conduct.  A person can be charged with promoting, compelling, or permitting prostitution. Each of these charges carries heavy penalties. If you or someone you know has been charged with prostitution or other related offenses, it’s imperative that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Queens Attorneys for Prostitution Offenses in New York

The penalties for prostitution can be severe. Conviction may include hefty fines, and even possible incarceration. Prostitution charges not only have legal consequences but can damage your personal reputation. It’s important if you are charged with prostitution, that you formulate a strong defense.

The attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner are experienced in New York law and have a strong focus in criminal defense. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner approaches each client with the utmost care and attention. Additionally, our attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner are creative and aggressive in the courtroom. We understand that every situation is different, and you will never face judgement from Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner.

Find an attorney who has the foresight into what the State may do. Attorney Rochelle S. Berliner has 27 years of experience in criminal law and has worked for the New York District Attorney's Office for 14 of those years. She understands what prosecutors look for and how they execute their plan of attack.

Start your plan of defense today. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner practices law throughout all five boroughs of New York including Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island.

Be ahead of the prosecution with an attorney at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner. Call us today at 718-261-5600, or simply submit an online contact form for a free consultation.

Overview for Prostitution Charges in New York


New York Prostitution Charges in Queens County

New York law has established five different categories for prostitution-related charges. A person can be convicted for practicing prostitution, patronizing a prostitute, promoting prostitution or compelling another person into prostitution. The penalties for prostitution offenses are dependent on the circumstances of the crime.

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Prostitution

New York law states an alleged offender is guilty of prostitution if he or she agrees to, offers, or engages in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. A prostitution conviction may result in a Class B misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class B misdemeanor in New York include:

  • A possible fine up to $500; and
  • Maximum jail sentence up to three months.

If the offense is within 1,000 feet of a school's property line the penalties may be enhanced. This includes playgrounds and bus stops. If prostitution offense happens in the vicinity of a school, the charges will be elevated to a Class A misdemeanor.

  • A possible fine up to $1,000; and
  • Maximum jail sentence up to one year.

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Patronizing a Prostitute

A person is guilty of patronizing another for prostitution if he or she:

  • Has set a prior understanding to pay a fee to another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her; or
  • Agrees to pay a fee to another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her; or
  • Solicits another person to engage in sexual conduct with him or her for a fee.

Patronizing a prostitute without any aggravating factors in New York law is referred to as patronizing a person for prostitution in the third degree. Third degree patronizing a prostitute charges may result in a Class A misdemeanor. A class A misdemeanor is punishable by up to one year in jail and a possible fine of up to $1,000.

If the prostitution offense has certain aggravating factors, the penalties may be enhanced. Those who patronize a sex worker under the age of 14 may be charged with patronizing a prostitution in the second degree. A second degree patronizing offense may result in a Class E felony. The maximum penalties for a Class E felony in New York include:

  • A possible fine determined by the court; and
  • Possible prison sentence up to five years.

The highest patronizing offense is patronizing a person for prostitution in the first degree.  If a person does the following, he or she may be charged with prostitution in the first degree:

  • Is over the age of 18 and patronizes a sex worker who is less than 13 years of age; or
  • Is under the age of 18 and patronizes a sex worker who is less than 11 years old.

A first degree patronizing offense may result in a Class D felony. The maximum penalties for a class D felony include:

  • A possible fine determined by the court; and
  • Possible prison sentence up to seven years.

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Promoting Prostitution

There are two ways a person can unlawfully promote prostitution in New York.

  • Advances Prostitution – If a person "advances prostitution" he or she knowingly causes or aids a person to engage in prostitution. Those who operate prostitution houses/enterprises, solicit patrons, provide persons for sex workers, or assists with a prostitution business are considered to be advancing prostitution.
  • Profits from Prostitution – If a person "profits from prostitution" he or she receives compensation or property for prostitution services made by another person.

Promoting prostitution is classified under four degrees. Fourth degree promoting prostitution is considered to be the “lightest” offense. For a person to be convicted of promoting prostitution in the fourth degree, he so she must knowingly:

  • Advance or profit from a prostitution house or enterprise; or
  • Distributes obscene material for the purpose of advancing or profiting from prostitution.

A fourth degree promoting prostitution offense is a Class A misdemeanor. Those convicted of a class a misdemeanor may face up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

New York law defines the term “obscene material” as any material or performance that:

  • Is created predominantly for sexual appeal;
  • Lacks any serious artistic, political, literary or scientific value; or
  • Describes or depicts any of the following in an actual or simulated manner:
    • Sexual intercourse;
    • Criminal sexual acts;
    • Bestiality;
    • Masturbation;
    • Masochism;
    • Sadism; or
    • Excretion or lewd excretion of the genitals.

If certain aggravating factors are present a promoting prostitution charge may be enhanced. A person can be charged with promoting prostitution in the third degree if he or she:  

  • Advances or profits from controlling or owning a prostitution house/enterprise that involves two or more sex workers. The alleged offender can work alone or with others;
  • Knowingly uses their travel-related business to provide travel services for patrons who intend to patronize a sex worker for prostitution. This includes if the patron is traveling to a foreign jurisdiction that has legalized prostitution; or
  • Advances or profits from prostitution from a sex worker who is less than 19 years old.

Promoting prostitution in the third degree is considered a Class D felony which is punishable by a fine determined by the court and a 15-year prison sentence.

If the sex worker is of a certain age or force is used, the crime’s penalties may be enhanced. A person may be charged with promoting prostitution in the second degree, if he or she:

  • Advances prostitution by compelling a person into sex work by force or intimidation;
  • Profits from prostitution that compels one or more people into sex work through force or intimidation. This includes if another person other than the defendant used coercive conduct; or
  • Advances or profits from prostitution of a person less than the age of 18 years old.

Conviction for a fourth degree promoting prostitution offense may result in a Class C felony. The maximum legal consequences for a Class C felony include:

  • A possible fine determined by the court; and
  • Possible prison time up to 15 years.

The highest promoting offense is promoting prostitution in the second degree. Those who do the following may be charged with a first degree promoting prostitution offense.  

  • Profits or advances from prostitution of a sex worker who is younger than 13 years old; or
  • Is over the age of 21 years old and knowingly profits or advances from prostituting a sex worker who is younger than 15 years old.

A conviction for promoting prostitution in the first degree may result in a Class B felony. The maximum legal consequences for a Class B felony include:

  • A possible fine determined by the court; and
  • Possible prison sentence up to 25 years.

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Compelling Prostitution

Those who coerce another to engage in sex work may be charged with a crime. If a person does the following, he or she may be charged with compelling prostitution:

  • Knowingly advances from prostitution; and
  • The alleged offender is over the age of 18; and
  • Compels another into prostitution through force or intimidation.

A conviction for compelling prostitution will result in a Class B felony. The maximum legal consequences for a class B felony include a fine determined by the court and a prison sentence of up to 25 years.

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Permitting Prostitution

Even if you don’t engage, advance, or profit from prostitution services you can still be charges. Any person who has property and knows it’s being used to advance prostitution may be charged with a crime. Even if the property owner gains no personal benefit.  The prosecution must prove the following to charge a person with permitting prostitution:  

  • The alleged offender had control of premises or a vehicle; and
  • The property was being used for prostitution purposes or to advance prostitution; and
  • The alleged offender didn’t make any reasonable effort to halt, report, or stop the prostitution advancement or services.

A person convicted of permitting prostitution may face a Class B misdemeanor. Those convicted of a class B misdemeanor may face a fine of up to $500, and up to three months in jail.


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Admissible Defenses for Prostitution in New York

 New York law does provide some affirmative defenses for prostitution-related offenses. If a person is charged with prostitution, he or she may have their case dismissed if the following occurred:

  • The alleged offender was a victim of compelling prostitution;
  • The alleged offender was a victim of sex trafficking; or
  • The alleged offender was a victim of trafficking in persons under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.

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New York Statutes of Limitations for Prostitution Charges in Queens

All crimes have a time limit for prosecutors to file formal charges against the alleged offender. In law, this time limit is referred to as a statute of limitations. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that all crimes are handled efficiently while preserving the integrity of relevant evidence. 

In New York, most crime’s statute of limitations is classified by the level of offense. An individual who commits a misdemeanor level prostitution offense will have a statute of two years. Any person who commits a felony level prostitution offense will have a statute of five years.

Understand that if the crime is considered heinous, the statute may be extended or even dismissed. For example, if you are charged with murder in addition to prostitution you should expect there will be no statute of limitations for the crime.


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Additional Resources

New York Penal Law § 230.00 – Visit the official website for New York's laws and rules. Find the statutory language surrounding types of prostitution offenses in New York. Read more regarding the prostitution offenses, their adjoining penalties, and what is considered an admissible defense in court.

U.S. Code Chapter 78: Trafficking Victims Protection – Read the Trafficking Protection Act provided by Cornell Law School. Read more regarding the purpose for the federal act, the legal definitions, and the various offenses that are considered sexual or human trafficking internationally.


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Defense Lawyer for Prostitution Offenses in New York

Any individual who is charged with a prostitution offense may face serious penalties. If you or someone you know is accused of a prostitution-related offense, it is within your right to obtain legal representation.  Be prepared for your charges and find a skilled criminal defense attorney with Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner.

The attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner have years of experience at handling all sorts of sex crimes in New York's criminal court system. We are compassionate with our clients and will fight tirelessly to protect your rights. Our attorneys pride ourselves on exhausting every possible resource to obtain the best possible result for our clients. Do not be idle in this legal process. Let the attorneys at Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner steer you in the right direction today.

 Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represent those accused of prostitution-related offense throughout the Queens County area including surrounding communities including Brooklyn, The Bronx, Manhattan, and Queens.

Call us today at 718-261-5600 to obtain counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney.


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This article was last updated on August 13, 2019.

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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

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