Prostitution has been called "the oldest profession." It has been around a long time. In the United States and around the world, many governments have adopted laws that either regulate it or criminalize it and drive it into an unregulated underground economy. It is arguable that most social ills associated with prostitution are really the effect of its criminalization and criminal law enforcement.
In Minnesota, prostitution is generally treated as a crime through numerous Minnesota criminal statutes. Though it is possible to be prosecuted federally for a prostitution-related crime, this page will be limited to a review of related Minnesota state laws.
Common Prostitution Charges
Though these types of cases can be charged as Felonies, Gross Misdemeanors, or Misdemeanors, the most common prostitution charges are the misdemeanor cases. Here are some examples of the more common charges:
Solicitation of Prostitution in a Public Place. Minnesota Statutes Section 609.324, subd. 2. This is defined as a Gross Misdemeanor, presumably due to the "public place" element.
Engaging in or Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution (18 or older). Minnesota Statutes Section 609.324, subd. 3. This is defined as a Misdemeanor, unless enhanced to a Gross Misdemeanor for a similar prior within two years.
Loitering with Intent to Participate in Prostitution (Public Place). Minnesota Statutes Section 609.3243. This Misdemeanor crime statute falls into the highly suspect category of "Loitering" crimes. These have historically had constitutional law issues; and, have been used to unfairly target disfavored individuals and classes. A "loitering with intent" crime tends to be based upon highly subjective interpretations of others behavior, a series of speculations, to arrive at the other person's "intent" without any real prohibited act, or act at all.
Though less common than Gross Misdemeanor and Misdemeanor cases, some prostitution-related crimes can be charged as a Felony.
Solicitation, Inducement or Promotion of Prostitution (Any Age). Minnesota Statutes Section 609.322. This is a Felony crime for those other than the prostitutes and patrons themselves.
Engaging in, Hiring, or Agreeing to Hire a Minor (Under 18) to Engage in Prostitution. Minnesota Statutes Section 609.324, subd. 1. This Felony targets patrons who hires those under 18 years old.
Factors of General Note
Age. A person's age alone can change the level of the criminal charge under the statutory scheme. There are numerous permutations relating to age in the statutes. The most important, however, is probably the difference between age 18, and under 18. Most of these criminal statutes define these crimes as a felony if the prostitute is under age 18.
Role. Promoters are treated more harshly than "Patrons," who in turn are treated more harshly than Prostitutes.
Location. The same allegations are treated more severely when in a "Public Place." Housing, as well as "Place of Prostitution" can be factors. Use of a motor vehicle can result in a drivers license record notation, as well as vehicle forfeiture under Minnesota Statutes Section 609.5312, subd. 3. There is a charge enhancement provision for school or park zones.
Law Enforcement Methods
In recent years much of the activity in this area has migrated from the streets to the internet. The police officers pursuing these cases have largely done so in response. One thing that has not changed is that most prostitution busts are sting operations or traps. Once a suspect is apprehended by police, typically police will seek to get the person to make a statement. No matter what excuses the person makes, the statement will be valuable to police and prosecutors. The targeted suspect who remains completely silent unless their lawyer is present, will generally be less likely to be charged or convicted.
The Entrapment Defense
The defense of entrapment generally is an affirmative defense where the accused provides evidence in court that she or he (1) was not predisposed to commit the crime; and (2) that the crime would not have occurred but for the actions of police, for example police coercion. Perhaps because most arrests in this area are the product of a police sting or trap, many people wonder if every police sting or trap operation is entrapment? No, that is not the case. Though it is possible to have an entrapment defense in one of these cases it is rare. The courts allow police to use a certain amount of deception in their work (contrary to apparent urban legend). It would be foolish to act as if it were otherwise.
How a Criminal Lawyer Can Help
A criminal defense lawyer can help a person charged with one of these crimes to identify a goal for a desired outcome, and then map out a path with the best chance of achieving that outcome goal. All of the knowledge and skills applicable to criminal law generally will make the difference here. Experience doesn't hurt, either.
If you'd like to discuss this with Minneapolis Criminal Lawyer Thomas C Gallagher, call 612-333-1500.
Serving The People of the local Mpls - St PaulTwin Cities metropolitan area in Hennepin County, Ramsey County, Anoka, Sherburne, Wright, Carver, Scott, Dakota, and Washington Counties (greater Minnesota only upon special consideration).