Degrees of Solicitation
The severity of a solicitation allegation depends only on the age of the seller of the sex. The act of soliciting someone who is at least sixteen years old is classified under NYPL §230.04 as Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Third Degree. Since this charge is a class A misdemeanor, a conviction could result in no more than one year in jail.
Allegations of solicitation become much more serious if the person selling sexual services is a minor. According to NYPL §230.05, any time that a person who is at least eighteen years old purchases sexual services from a person under the age of fifteen, they may be charged with the class E felony of Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the Second Degree.
The most serious version of solicitation under New York Penal Law is Patronizing a Person for Prostitution in the First Degree. According to NYPL §230.06, you may be charged with this crime if you solicit sex from someone who is less than eleven years old, or if you are older than eighteen and the person you are soliciting is less than thirteen. A conviction here is a class D felony.
Affirmative Defenses to Solicitation Charges
As an affirmative defense to an accusation of solicitation, NYPL §230.07 allows a defendant to argue that they had a reasonable belief the person they patronized was of legal age—for example, if the seller produced a falsified driver’s license stating that they are over the age of eighteen.
Raising this defense generally will not completely eliminate the charges, but it may result in the severity being reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor. A Binghamton solicitation attorney could work with you to determine if this defense applies and potentially put it into action in court.