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New York Sex Crimes

By Spodek Law Group | October 18, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 19, 2023)

Last Updated on: 19th October 2023, 07:53 pm

New York Sex Crimes: An Overview for the Average Person

Sex crimes are a big problem in New York, with thousands of arrests every year. As an average person without a law degree, it can be confusing to understand all the legal mumbo-jumbo around these charges. This article will break it down into simple English so you can learn the basics.

What is a Sex Crime?

A sex crime is any illegal sexual act. This includes things like rape, sexual abuse, child pornography, prostitution, trafficking, and other offenses. The details vary, but they all involve some type of nonconsensual or abusive sexual behavior that is against the law.

Common Sex Crimes in New York


Rape is having sexual intercourse with someone by force or without their consent. There are three degrees of rape charges in New York:

  • First Degree Rape – Forcible sex that causes injury, is aided by other people, or is against a child under 11. This is the most serious rape charge.
  • Second Degree Rape – Forcible sex with anyone, or sex with a child under 15 when the rapist is 18 or older.
  • Third Degree Rape – Sex without consent when the victim is mentally incapacitated, unconscious, or physically helpless.

Criminal Sexual Act

This refers to forced or nonconsensual oral or anal sex. Like rape, there are varying degrees based on the circumstances:

  • First Degree – Oral/anal sex by force, with an unconscious person, or with a child under 11.
  • Second Degree – Oral/anal sex with someone unable to consent due to disability, or with a child under 15 if the perpetrator is 18+.
  • Third Degree – Oral/anal sex without consent against an adult.

Aggravated Sexual Abuse

This refers to inserting a finger or object in the genitals, anus, etc. of another person by force or without consent. There are degrees based on the circumstances:

  • First Degree – Aggravated sexual abuse using an object that causes injury.
  • Second Degree – Aggravated sexual abuse using force or with someone unable to consent.
  • Third Degree – Aggravated sexual abuse by inserting a finger against someone’s will.
  • Fourth Degree – Any aggravated sexual abuse without consent (not by force).

Sex Offenses Against Children

There are a range of charges for sexual acts with a minor, including:

  • Child Pornography – Possessing, creating, or distributing sexual content involving children.
  • Luring a Child – Luring or enticing a child into a vehicle, building, or private area for sexual purposes.
  • Sexual Performance by a Child – Causing a child to engage in sexual conduct on camera or for an audience.

Sex Trafficking

Sex trafficking is forcing or coercing someone into performing sexual acts for money. This often involves transporting victims.

  • Sex Trafficking – Inducing anyone to participate in sex work through force, fraud, or coercion.
  • Sex Trafficking of a Child – Causing anyone under 18 to engage in sex work, even if “willingly.”

Prostitution and Patronizing a Prostitute

It is illegal to either pay for sex (patronizing a prostitute) or be paid for sex (prostitution) in New York. There are enhanced penalties for prostitution near a school.

Unlawful Surveillance

This refers to viewing or recording nudity or sexual activity in private without the subject’s knowledge, such as “peeping tom” behaviors or hidden cameras.


Common Defenses Against Sex Crime Charges

There are a variety of legal defenses that a skilled criminal defense lawyer can use to fight sex crime allegations, such as:

  • False Accusations – The alleged victim is lying or mistaken about what occurred.
  • Consent – Showing the sexual acts were consensual, not forced.
  • Mistake of Age – Reasonably believing an underage victim was older.
  • Intoxication – Being too impaired to form criminal intent.
  • Mental Illness – Having a mental defect that prevented understanding the acts.
  • Lack of Evidence – No solid proof the crime occurred as alleged.

Sex Offender Registration

Many sex crimes require registering as a sex offender under the Sex Offender Registration Act (SORA) if convicted. This brings long-term monitoring, residency restrictions, and reporting requirements. The length depends on the specific charges.

Sex crimes carry huge penalties that can ruin someone’s life forever. Don’t go through it alone. Consult an experienced NY sex crimes lawyer who understands these complex cases. They will aggressively defend your rights, examine the evidence, and build the strongest defense to fight the charges. Each case is different – skilled legal help can make all the difference.

Overview of Major New York Sex Crimes Laws and Penalties

Here is a quick reference guide to some key New York sex crimes laws, penalties and defenses. This is not comprehensive but covers some of the most common offenses.

Rape (PL § 130.25-130.35)

  • 1st Degree (Class B felony): Up to 25 years prison
  • 2nd Degree (Class D felony): Up to 7 years prison
  • 3rd Degree (Class E felony): Up to 4 years prison

Possible defenses: False accusation, consent, mental illness

Criminal Sexual Act (PL § 130.40-130.50)

  • 1st Degree (Class B felony): Up to 25 years prison
  • 2nd Degree (Class D felony): Up to 7 years prison
  • 3rd Degree (Class E felony): Up to 4 years prison

Possible defenses: Intoxication, consent, mistake of age

Sexual Abuse (PL § 130.55-130.65)

  • 1st Degree (Class D felony): Up to 7 years prison
  • 2nd Degree (Class A misdemeanor): Up to 1 year jail
  • 3rd Degree (Class B misdemeanor): Up to 3 months jail

Possible defenses: Lack of evidence, false accusations

Aggravated Sexual Abuse (PL § 130.65-a – 130.70)

  • 1st Degree (Class B felony): Up to 25 years prison
  • 2nd Degree (Class C felony): Up to 15 years prison
  • 3rd Degree (Class D felony): Up to 7 years prison
  • 4th Degree (Class E felony): Up to 4 years prison

Possible defenses: Mistake of age, mental illness

Sex Offenses Against Children (Various provisions)

  • Typically Class B, C, D, or E felonies
  • Up to 25 years prison

Possible defenses: Mistake of age, false accusations

Sex Trafficking (PL § 230.34-230.34-a)

  • Of Adult (Class B felony): Up to 25 years prison
  • Of Minor (Class B felony): Up to 25 years prison

Possible defenses: Lack of evidence, no intent

Prostitution Offenses (PL § 230.00-230.32)

  • Typically Class B misdemeanors or Class A misdemeanors
  • Up to 1 year in jail

Possible defenses: Entrapment, unlawful search


I hope this overview has helped explain some of the most common sex crimes, penalties, and defenses in New York. These charges must be taken extremely seriously and can carry severe prison time if convicted. Always consult an experienced criminal defense lawyer if you are facing allegations. An attorney can carefully examine the evidence, identify any police errors, and build the strongest defense to protect your rights. Don’t leave your future to chance – skilled legal help can make all the difference.

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