Prostitution: One of the oldest crimes

Prostitution: One of the oldest crimes

On January 28, 2016 Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announced the conviction of Damon Hayes, 45, for running a sex trafficking operation in January, 2014. The ring included Yolanda Ostoloza, 41, who was charged separately, and her 15-year-old daughter, whom Hayes had forcibly trafficked. The New York jury found him guilty of all charges in the indictment, including Endangering the Welfare of a Child, Promoting Prostitution in the Second and Third Degrees, and Sex Trafficking. He will be sentenced on February 16, 2016.

All of New York State’s prostitution laws target offenses that arise from the unlawful act of participating (or agreeing to participate) in sexual activity with another person for money. In addition to sex trafficking, related crimes include promoting, compelling, or permitting prostitution, and patronizing a prostitute.

In March of 2015, the New York State Assembly passed legislation that mandated tougher penalties for sex traffickers. The offense was formerly a non-violent felony with minor punishments such as a year in jail. Under the new law, sex trafficking is now considered a violent class B felony, punishable by up to 25 years in prison for a first offense. The felony levels and prison times also increased for those caught patronizing underage prostitutes.

Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor. That means the crime is punishable by up to three months in jail, a $500 fine or both. Prostitution in a school zone is taken particularly seriously. It is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

Patronizing a prostitute is also a class A misdemeanor. However, such a charge increases to a class E felony if the prostitute is under 14 years of age, and increases to a class D felony if the prostitute is under 11 years of age.  In addition, such individuals also run the risk of being charged with additional crimes, such as Statutory Rape.  Finally, anyone who  patronizes a prostitute under 17 years of age can be required to register as a sex offender in the State of New York.

Promoting prostitution is also a crime and, depending on the exact circumstances, may range in seriousness from a class A misdemeanor to a B  felony. Compelling prostitution is also a crime.

If you have been charged with a prostitution-related offense (or believe you are about to be charged), then it is imperative that you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. The police, District Attorney, United States Attorney’s offices, and the FBI all investigate and prosecute prostitution crimes with a particularly high level of determination, and the lives of the accused and their families are rarely the same again.

An experienced attorney will be aware of these potential consequences and work hard to protect your rights and dignity while putting together a legally sound and carefully-orchestrated line of defense. People have been arrested for prostitution crimes as a result of entrapment, illegal invasion of privacy, and discriminatory investigation approaches, and if any of these apply to you, your attorney will present all applicable facts to your advantage. Don’t take chances with your future: let a good criminal defense attorney put their experience, knowledge, and advocacy skills to work for you.