At the New York Criminal Defense firm of Tilem & Campbell we are seeing increased arrests for prostitution and prostitution related offenses. In addition, we are getting contacted by many women in the escort industry throughout the New York City Metropolitan area by way of our website escortattorney.com who are concerned in the wake of the Elliot Spitzer scandal. One of the topics that we have been addressing with our clients is the issue of massage and massage related terms especially on websites. Many escorts, in an attempt to cover up the true nature of services being provided advertise relating to “intimate massages.” What we are seeing is that women in the escort industry are not aware that practicing the profession of massage without a license or advertising that a person is a masseuse constitutes a felony under the New York Education Law.
Under current New York State law, Prostitution in New York is a class “B” misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail. Under New York Education Law §7801 and §7802 Practice of Massage without a license constitutes the unlawful practice of a profession is a class “E” felony punishable by up to 4 years in prison.
Terminology on a website advertising escort or massage services can be critical since merely using certain terms like “massage therapist”, “masseuse” or “massage” and other terms could subject a person the criminal liability. In the wake of the hysteria in the sex industry caused by the Elliot Spitzer scandal, the lawyers here at Tilem & Campbell have been reviewing and modifying websites for our clients to ensure that they are not inadvertently advertising illegal services or holding themselves out as unlicensed professionals. We are in the process of educating our clients so that they can be in compliance with the law. In addition, Peter Tilem & Peter Tilem have been drafting certain disclaimers to be added to websites so that it is clear that the website is not advertising illegal service.
Many women do not know that in the event they are arrested, the police will often preserve the website or electronic advertisement which in some cases is used as incriminating evidence against the accused. By paying attention to the information that is being disseminated women can make criminal prosecution less likely and make any prosecution harder to prove.
When in doubt contact a lawyer experienced in this particular area of criminal law to review the material before it is posted on the internet. An ounce of prevention can go a long way.