Interviewer: At what point in cases that involve soliciting prostitution would someone have to register as a sex offender? What would be the worst case scenario where they would have to do that?
Attorney: Sex offender registry does not really come from the prostitution solicitation cases; that comes really from more a sexual abuse or sexual misconduct case. In New York, soliciting a prostitute has not yet been classified as a sex offender registration crime that somebody would need to register for.
Interviewer: What if the prostitute was a minor?
Attorney: Well, if you’re having a sex with a minor, whether she’s a prostitute or otherwise, then you fall into the rape category or the sex abuse or sexual misconduct. Even though she may be a prostitute, once a person is a minor. That prostitute is deemed not capable of consensual sex, so she may consent and you may pay her, but you’re still having sex with a minor and that is what’s referred to as a statutory rape case or any other sex abuse case in addition to the prostitution cases.
Interviewer: So that person would run the risk of having to register as a sex offender?
Attorney: Correct, under all circumstances that’s correct.
Interviewer: What about the “pimp?” Would that person also have to deal with those charges as well?
Attorney: Interestingly enough, it’s not a registerable offense for him. There is a prostitution charge in New York State – promoting prostitution. You have people who advance prostitution, compel prostitution, and then you get into the sex trafficking statutes, and some of these are Class B, C, and D felonies, so people can go to jail for a really long time. Sex trafficking, again, or promoting or compelling prostitution are not sex offenses for which you register. It depends if any other charges would go in conjunction with those. For promoting or compelling prostitution, you may register for that, but for soliciting a prostitute you don’t.
Interviewer: At what point would someone face jail time and if they get arrested, do they immediately get jailed?
Attorney: For the person who is classified as a prostitute and is arrested for prostitution, that’s a misdemeanor and they face up to one year in jail. Likewise, the person who patronizes a prostitute as a misdemeanor also faces up to a year in jail. Those cases right away, like any other crime, are eligible for the possibility of going to jail. It depends on the breakdown of who the prostitute is, the age of the prostitute, the age of the John. For instance, here in New York, you can have patronizing a prostitute in the second degree. We have a patronizing a prostitute in the fourth degree, we have patronizing a prostitute in the third degree, and we have patronizing a prostitute in the second degree, so before we mention going to jail for up to a year, that’s patronizing a prostitute in a third degree – a misdemeanor. Now you go into the second degree, and that’s an E Felony, and the difference between that is that the John, as we’re referring to him, is over 18, and the prostitute is younger than 14.
Not only is that an E Felony on that side, but now we got into that Sex Offender Registration Act, where, depending on what’s going on, he may have to report as a sex offender. Then we have other ones: we have patronizing a prostitute who’s less than 11; that’s a D Felony. Depending on the ages, the severity of the punishment and the type of crime increases. People could end up in jail for many years for what they originally thought was okay. They think it’s okay to pay somebody to have sex, but we don’t recognize that alone, because it depends on the age of the individual.
Interviewer: If there’s a situation where someone hires a prostitute or an escort and they get caught, what are some of the minimum fines that they may have to pay?
Attorney: Let’s just say everybody’s over the age of 21 to keep everybody in that category. There’s no real minimum. The minimum fine on a misdemeanor is nothing, and it could go up to $1,000. There’s jail time: there could be nothing, or up to a year in jail. There could be probation from no probation up to three years of probation or a combination of what I just mentioned, so you face those fees. There could be other court fees associated with it. There are always mandatory surcharges. Now there are DNA fees for anybody who gets convicted of crimes and submits to a DNA swab and go into a DNA database. It could be thousands of dollars for just a minimal intrusion and it can just go up from there, including going to jail.