Prostitution laws in New York City

Just as it is within the state of New York, prostitution and related activities are prohibited in New York City. There are no laws within the city that change the intent of the state statutes created many years before. With many neighborhoods being known for their seedy reputations, prostitution is still a lucrative business, despite the efforts of the powers that be to pretend that they try to uproot it.

Statistics about prostitution

Prostitution in New York City proves to be a social problem that affects many people with long-lasting impacts. A city where nearly anything is available to anyone, drug addicts often find themselves drawn to prostitution in order to support their drug habits. Many are addicted to cocaine, crack and heroin. It is estimated that 26-percent of prostitutes in New York City are homeless and addicts with long-term relationships with illicit drugs. The threat of HIV infection increases with illicit drug use, as well.

Another social problem demonstrated by prostitution statistics are children who are turned over to the state’s custody. Many children are left parentless as a result. Nearly 90-percent of self-professed prostitutes have admitted to having to give away at least one child to child protective services due to lifestyle decisions.

Prostitution laws

While prostitution is illegal in New York City for both sellers and buyers, escort services and massage parlors remain legal business enterprises. Both of these types of businesses often cross the line into providing acts of prostitution. However, the services provided by these businesses are often legitimized by a clear description of what the business offers, despite what really occurs behind closed doors.

Prostitution is considered a class B misdemeanor in New York City. An offender found guilty of committing prostitution may serve up to 3 months in jail and/or pay a fine up to $500 per offense. However, a customer (or patron) of an adult prostitute may serve up to a year in jail and/or pay a fine up to $1,000. Police officers perform regular “sweeps” of the streets in order to clear them of prostitutes and their customers.

While it’s perceived that the majority of prostitutes are streetwalkers, that is not necessarily the case. Laws regarding prostitution are extremely hard to enforce, especially when many prostitutes operate a low-key business that runs below the radar of law enforcement. Many hookers find opportunities by promoting themselves through the Internet and through special escort services.

Special considerations for New York City

It is important to consider that New York City is one of the major immigration hubs in the United States. The laws that apply to sex trafficking are especially important when applying them to situations in the city. Many immigrants are taken advantage of due to their inabilities to speak English, their lack of money and having no knowledge of the area. Often held against their will or tricked into prostitution, many people find themselves living a life unlike what they had anticipated.

This is why sex trafficking laws are so important in New York City. Anyone found guilty of forcing someone to engage in prostitution, transporting someone into the country for the purpose of committing prostitution or holding someone against his or her will in order to promote prostitution is guilty of a class B felony with severe sentencing ramifications.


The following Nevada counties have their own laws and regulations on prostitution:

Prostitution laws in US cities:

Prostitution laws in Canada