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Defense Against Prostitution Charges

New York law establishes four affirmative defenses to prostitution. These defenses protect those accused of prostitution who may be afraid to approach the authorities for help. They also protect women who are underage and may be coerced against their will by kidnappers or child sexual predators. Before discussing the defenses, it is necessary to give a brief overview of the crime of prostitution.

If you or someone you know faces prostitution charges, call the experienced and aggressive criminal defense lawyers at Tilem & Associates to help keep you out of jail and keep your criminal record clear. Protect your reputation. Call now for a free consultation. Visit for more information.

Prostitution is a class B misdemeanor. The maximum penalty is three months in jail or a $500.00 fine or both. A person commits the crime of prostitution when, for a fee, they agree to or engage in sexual conduct. The prosecution must also prove that there was criminal intent to accept the fee and go through with the act. An example of evidence that may be considered sufficient to establish the intent where a person gave a price quote, took the money, and guided an undercover police officer to a motel. The prosecution may prove the intent beyond a reasonable doubt by circumstantial evidence alone. Sex or sexual acts do not need to occur in order to prove the crime of prostitution. It is enough that there was an offer or agreement to trade sexual conduct for money or some sort of fee.

Discussed below are four important affirmative defenses, which are defenses that must be proved by the accused.

First, If a child is compelled into prostitution by an adult under threat of violence or force, those facts form an affirmative defense to prostitution. This defense protects children who may have been kidnapped and forced into prostitution against their will. If a minor is facing prostitution charges or a sexual predator coerced them into prostitution, this defense may be available to protect the child.

Second and third, it is an affirmative defense to prostitution that a person was the victim of sex trafficking or sex trafficking of a child. New York law defines sex trafficking as intentionally advancing prostitution by drugging, lying to, destroying immigration documents, indebting, or otherwise scaring a person who is being patronized as a prostitute.

Enhanced protections exist under the third affirmative defense for children. For those accused of sex trafficking of a child, it is not a defense that the accused not know the child was under eight-teen. This provision bolsters the defense of a child accused of prostitution by removing the requirement that prosecutors need to prove criminal intent in order to establish that a child was sex trafficked. These two provisions protect vulnerable adults and children who may have been the victims of greater degrees of coercion than the first affirmative defense.

Fourth, it is an affirmative defense to prostitution that a person is protected by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), 22 USC 7101 et seq. People protected by the TVPA have been victims of severe forms of sex trafficking and must be either under eight-teen years old or:

They must be ready and willing the help the United States government prosecute the most severe forms of sex trafficking in every reasonable way, unless they are unable to due to psychiatric or physical abuse;

They must have made an application for a visa under 8 U.S.C.A. 1101(T) and that application has not been denied;

According to the Department of Homeland Security, the United States requires them to reside in the country, to bring about the prosecution of sex traffickers.

TVPA extends protections to those who are in the United States unlawfully. Victims of severe forms of sex trafficking under TVPA receive special medical, immigration, and housing benefits.

As shown, the statutory defenses against prostitution charges are comprehensive. Victims of sex trafficking can stay out of jail and prevent prostitution charges from being added to their criminal records by invoking these robust protections.

If you or someone you love are facing prostitution charges call the experienced and aggressive lawyers at Tilem & Associates to help keep you out of jail and keep your criminal record clear. Visit for more information. Call today for a free consultation.

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