Prostitution under N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1

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For example, investigators found suspects through alleged online ads, per the news. Later, posing as “johns,” the cops made meetings with each woman. Next, when meeting in person, the two would allegedly agree on a sex act for money, per the press. Consequently, the officer would pay. But before consummating the deal, the woman would be arrested, per the media.

Despite publicizing the arrests, authorities have not released any names. Furthermore, law enforcement has not disclosed where the meetings took place. Notwithstanding participation of five towns, seven arrests were in Bellmawr, one in Gloucester City, and one in Runnemede. Finally, except for two women who had warrants, all were released pending court, per nj dot com.

Grading Prostitution

First Degree Crime

A person commits a First Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 if the actor:

Second Degree Crime

A person commits a Second Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 if the actor knowingly engages in prostitution with a person under the age of 18, or if the actor enters into or remains in a house of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity with a child under the age of 18, or if the actor solicits or requests a child under the age of 18 to engage in sexual activity. It shall be no defense to a prosecution under this paragraph that the actor mistakenly believed that the child was 18 years of age or older, even if such mistaken belief was reasonable.3

Third Degree Crime

A person commits a Third Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 if the actor :

Fourth Degree Crime

A person commits a Fourth Degree Crime under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 if the actor:

Disorderly Persons Offense

A person commits a Disorderly Persons Offense under N.J.S.A. 2C:34-1 if the actor:

Case Law

Neither sex nor money are inherently evil, contrary to communist and fundamentalist beliefs. Of course, sexual activity is a necesssary element of the law against prostitution. But with respect to this crime, believe it or not, sex is not at the heart of the matter. Indeed, there is nothing illegal about adults engaging in consensual sexual relations. The legislature intended, however, to prohibit any and all forms of sexual activity in exchange for money.

For example, some social evils associated with commercial prostitution include female coercion, exploitation, and degradation. Another evil involves the spread of sexually transmitted infections. Additionally, commercial prostitution tends to promote corruption in government and law enforcement machinery. Furthermore, the proceeds of prostitution contribute to the maintenance of criminal organizations and parasitic elements living on them. Indeed, all these social harms, except for the spread of veneral disease, are absent from non-commercial promiscuous sexual activity between adults.9

“Such An Offense”

Repeat offenders for such an offense as prostitution face increasingly serious charges under the statute’s grading provisions. Of course, this should come as no surprise. After all, deterrence figures prominently among the justifications for punishment. Thus, it follows that the legislature will increase penalties for certain repeat offenders. After all, in the eyes of the law, punishment is the only way a recidivist will change.

For example, the statute grades engaging in prostitution as a patron as a disorderly persons offense, except that a second or third conviction for such an offense is a fourth degree crime. Likewise, the statute grades a fourth or subsequent conviction for such an offense as a third degree crime.10

Additionally, the statute grades engaging in prostitution by personally offering sex in exchange for something of economic value as a disorderly persons offense. Furthermore, it grades a second or subsequent conviction for such an offense as a fourth degree crime.11

The formulation such an offense, however, limits the grading enhancement by excluding prior petty disordeerly prostitution convictions. Indeed, the New Jersey Supreme Court dismissed an indictment charging a woman with fourth degree engaging in prostitution for this very reason. In particular, her only prior conviction was for a petty disorderly persons offense. For example, the Court found the statutory text such an offense to be ambiguous. Accordingly, the Court determined the legislature did not clearly intend to include prior petty disorderly offenders among those who repeatedly commit such an offense.12

Did the cops charge you with prostitution?

New Jersey Criminal Lawyer Michael A. Smolensky, Esquire, knows how to protect his clients. Mr. Smolensky can provide confidential consultations in all cases involving Prostitution and Related Offenses under N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1.



1 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(3).
2 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(4).
3 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(7).
4 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(5).
5 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(6).
6 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(1).
7 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(2).
8 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1b(8).
9 State v. Wright, 235 N.J. Super. 97 (App. Div. 1989).
10 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1c(5) (emphasis added).
11 N.J.S.A. 2c:34-1c(6) (emphasis added).
12 State v. Gelman, 195 N.J. 475 (2008).