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Appellate Division Upheld a Prostitution Conviction. People v. Ghang, 2004 NY Slip Op 50965 (N.Y. 2004)


Prostitution, as defined under New York law in Penal Law section 230.00, is the exchange of sexual services for money or any other form of compensation. Generally when people are charged with prostitution, it is a misdemeanor, resulting in a fine and little if any jail time.  However, it is still a crime and will result in a criminal record. In People v. Ghang, defendant Lin Ghang challenged the sufficiency of the evidence to support a conviction.

Factual Background
In this case, the defendant Ghang faced a conviction of prostitution under Penal Law § 230.00. The heart of the matter was whether there was sufficient evidence to support this conviction and whether the verdict stood up to scrutiny.

The case unfolded in a setting familiar to many—a barbershop. The crucial interaction occurred between Ghang and an undercover police officer, taking place in the rear of the barbershop premises. The officer engaged in a verbal exchange with Ghang, during which the topic of sexual conduct for a fee was broached. Note that when it comes to arrests for prostitution, it is not unusual for the arrest to involve an undercover police officer. The testimony of police officers is typically given great weight.

In this case the nature and circumstances surrounding the conversation between Ghang and the policer officer were central to the case. What happened immediately after the officer’s solicitation added to the evidence. Ghang’s behavior of re-entering the cubicle area wearing only a towel was observed.

These circumstances formed the basis of the prosecution’s case against Ghang. The core question was whether Ghang had agreed to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for monetary compensation. The trial court determined that Ghang was guilty of violating Penal Law § 230.00.

The Appellate Divison determined that Ghang’s conviction for prostitution was legally sound. The evidence supporting the conviction was deemed sufficient, and the court found no grounds to challenge the verdict. Issues of credibility, often critical in such cases, were considered by the trial court, which acted as the factfinder. Ultimately, the court upheld the conviction based on the credible evidence presented.

Prostitution cases often revolve around the delicate task of establishing whether an agreement for sexual conduct in exchange for money or other forms of compensation has occurred. In this case, the pivotal moment was the verbal exchange between Ghang and the undercover officer. The court carefully considered the nature of this conversation and the subsequent actions of the defendant.

While prostitution laws may vary by jurisdiction, they typically involve the exchange of sexual services for money. In New York, Penal Law § 230.00 defines prostitution as engaging or agreeing to engage in sexual conduct with another person in return for a fee. Therefore, the central issue in Ghang’s case was whether there was an agreement between Ghang and the undercover officer for such sexual conduct in exchange for compensation.

The court’s decision highlights the importance of evidence and credibility in criminal cases. In this instance, the court found that the evidence presented—specifically, the circumstances surrounding the conversation and Ghang’s actions—established beyond a reasonable doubt that an agreement for sexual conduct in exchange for a fee had taken place. Thus the Appellate Division upheld the decision of the criminal court.

To many, prostitution may not be viewed as a serious crime. Still, it is a crime and those convicted of it will have a criminal record that involves a sex-related offense.  This can impact the future of the defendant, making it difficult to secure employment or housing. If you are someone you know faces a charge of prostitution, it is important to contact an experienced New York crime lawyer to help navigate the criminal process and help secure the best outcome for your case based on the facts and circumstances of your case.

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