Articles Posted in Prostitution Solicitation

We have previously written regarding the involvement of Craigslist in the prostitution industry.  The heat had been on the internet media giant for allowing ads to be posted for casual encounters and other sexually oriented liaisons.  The position was traditionally that internet advertisers were immune from any criminal culpability or civil liability stemming from promoting prostitution or lewd conduct. The pressure just got turned up even higher for the internet company as a result of the Craigslist killer case.

There is no doubt that the ads reflected on Craigslist are intended by the poster to attract prostitution and lewd conduct. There really is no room for debate on this issue in my mind. Notwithstanding, what obligation does a publisher have for the voluntary acts of adults?  Indeed, ads like those on Craigslist have been commonplace in print newspapers like the Asbury Park Press and Star Ledger for decades. Where do we draw the line?

The answer to this issue can be found in the NJ Prostitution Law itself. For example, N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 criminalizes conduct that facilitates the payment of compensate in exchange for the performance of a sexual act. The law sets forth varieties of acts which promote prostitution including maintaining a business of prostitution, procuring a prostitute for another, inducing someone to become a prostitute, soliciting someone to use a prostitute, transporting a prostitute, or providing property to conduct a prostitution enterprise. A review of these provisions fails to identify a violation under New Jersey law by Craigslist.  Accordingly, the only real way to hold an entity like this criminally culpable would be some loose theory that, by virtue of allowing advertisements to be posted, they are promoting prostitution. I hope one can appreciate that we may be talking about morality here as opposed to legality.

A prominent NJ criminal lawyer pleaded guilty the other day to promoting prostitution. The related charge stemmed from his involvement in a popular escort service operated out of New York.  The attorney had originally been charged with felony offenses but the plea involved a downgrade to a misdemeanor offense.

It is unclear from the reports as to the exact of the defendant’s involvement in the prostitution enterprise. Nonetheless, the New Jersey Prostitution Law, N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1, would expose an individual who promotes prostitution to a Disorderly Persons Offense, Fourth Degree Crime or Third Degree Crime, depending on the underlying facts and circumstances.  An accused promotes prostitution when he or she operates a prostitution business, induces another to be a prostitute, solicits someone to engage a prostitute, transports a prostitute or provides property to be used for prostitution. It appears that the attorney was more of a silent partner in the prostitution venture in question but that would, nevertheless, constitute conduct which promotes prostitution. His plea was to NY’s version of our Disorderly Persons Offense of Promotion Prostitution.

The outcome in this case is akin to what you would expect to happen in New Jersey.  I am glad that the lawyer was treated fairly rather than receiving harsher treatment than a normal person under the circumstances.  A felony was avoided and this seems just in view of the fact that no one was intentionally injured.

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