Compelling prostitution is a sex crime that incurs significant criminal penalties upon conviction. If you are found guilty of compelling prostitution of an underage person, then the punishment is even more severe. This charge is typically applied as part of an investigation into human trafficking activities, a crime that repulses judges and juries and inspires especially harsh punishments.

Under NYPL 230.33, you can be found guilty of compelling prostitution if you are over 21 years of age and knowingly advance prostitution (pimping or pandering) by using force or intimidation to compel someone under the age of 16 to engage in sex for money. A common example is using drugs and/or physical and sexual violence to make a victim compliant enough to be “pimped out.”

Compelling prostitution in New York is a Class B felony that can potentially send you to a state prison for up to 25 years, depending on the severity of the circumstances and the existence of a prior record. It is no defense to claim that you did not know the victim was under sixteen: the concept of forced prostitution has angered lawmakers enough to stonewall that defense option. The repercussions may get even worse in the future: although compelling prostitution is currently classified as a non-violent felony, there is a movement underway to have serious prostitution-related offenses reclassified as violent ones. If that happens, then the prison terms for a guilty verdict will rise considerably.

A lengthy prison term is not the only consequence of a conviction for compelling prostitution. You will also be registered as a sex offender in the State of New York, which can be devastating for your current and future circumstances. New York Education Law § 305 requires the Commission of Education to revoke the teaching certificate of any teacher registered as a sex offender, and other professional licenses can be similarly affected.

For these reasons and more, anyone charged with compelling prostitution needs to contact an experienced New York sex crimes defense attorney. Such charges often result from a law enforcement sting, and it is not unusual to be entangled in a compelling prostitution case because you were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Defending yourself against such an inflammatory charge requires a legal strategy designed to challenge not only digital and physical evidence but also witness statements from individuals who are willing to lie in order to advance their circumstances. You will definitely want to work with an attorney who is experienced in gathering the right evidence to support your case. The sooner you engage an expert advocate, the more effective they can be in mounting a defense against these serious charges.

Julie Rendelman is an experienced attorney who has worked both as a prosecutor for the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office and as a private criminal defense lawyer. She offers free consultations and can be reached at 212-951-1232.