NY Criminal Defense – Prostitution and Unlicensed Massage: NY Penal Law Section 230.00

NY criminal defense attorneys must always be aware of legal decisions and the impact on the charges that their clients face. Those legal decisions as they relate to Prostitution, Escort Services and Unlicensed Massage are no different. That is one of the purposes behind EscortDefense.Com.

Recently, on June 26, 2008, Judge Marc Whiten, of the New York (Manhattan) Criminal Court, denied a criminal defense attorney’s motion to dismiss where the defendant was charged with both one count of Prostitution pursuant to New York Penal Law 、230.00 and one count of Attempted Unauthorized Practice of a Profession (“Unlicensed Massage”) pursuant to New York Penal 、110 and Education Law 、6512[1].

In this case, People v. Makeda Benjamin, the defendant escort was contacted online, in a manner similar to Craig’s List or Backpage, and agreed to meet an undercover officer to give a massage in exchange for $200. Ultimately, when the parties met, the undercover asked if the escort would perform sexual services and the escort defendant agreed for no additional price. The defendant escort then got undressed and danced for the undercover police officer. Additionally, the defendant escort neither displayed or had a license to give a massage.

In denying the motion to dismiss, Judge Whiten stated that the defendant escort’s oral agreement to perform the sexual conduct was admissible as a statement against her penal interest and, therefore, was sufficient, along with her disrobing and dancing, to establish the charge of Prostitution. Moreover, Judge Whiten stated that “when taken in conjunction with defendant disrobing and dancing, these factual allegations support the officer’s reasonable inference that defendant was not a licensed professional massage therapist or masseur who was going to give him a very expensive massage, but was instead engaging in prostitution and the unauthorized practice of a profession.”

Judge Whiten’s decision has made two points very clear. Even if an individual is offering a massage, law enforcement can establish through a totality of the circumstances – a verbal agreement, the high price of the massage service, the disrobing and dancing – that an individual is in fact engaged in Prostitution. Secondly, if an individual offers or gives a massage, but fails to prominently display a license or certification to do so, they can be charged with Attempted or Unauthorized Practice of a Profession.

If you find yourself in a similar predicament, retain experienced NY criminal defense attorney who knows the law on Prostitution and related crimes. Don’t compound your mistakes by merely hiring an attorney with little to no background in these criminal matters.

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