Prostitution and Minnesota Criminal Law

By Prostitution Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher

St Mary of Egypt
St Mary of Egypt

We often call prostitution the oldest profession.  It has been around a long time.

In the United States and around the world, many governments have laws that either regulate it, or criminalize it.  When a crime, the laws drive it into an unregulated underground economy.

Arguably, most social ills associated with prostitution are really the effect of its criminalization.  (Compare with jurisdictions where it is not a crime.)

Minnesota generally treats prostitution as a crime through many Minnesota criminal statutes.  Federal prosecutors can file a federal crime.   This page, by Prostitution Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher, focuses on Minnesota state laws.

Common Prostitution Charges

Though these types of cases are charged as Felonies, Gross Misdemeanors, or Misdemeanors, the most common are the misdemeanor cases.  If you are facing a prostitution charge at any severity level, you need the best prostitution attorney to defend you and your good name.

Here are some examples of the more common charges:

Solicitation of Prostitution in a Public Place

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.324, subd. 2.  The “public place” element makes it a Gross Misdemeanor.  We have seen overreaching by police and prosecutors where they claim private places, such as apartments or hotel rooms are “public.”  This is the most common of these charges.  Your prostitution attorney will ask the jury to tell the state that a hotel room is not a public place.

Engaging in or Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution (18 or older)

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.324, subd. 3.  A Misdemeanor generally, the crime enhances to a Gross Misdemeanor if a similar prior conviction exists within two years.

Loitering with Intent to Participate in Prostitution (Public Place)

Got Liberty?

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.3243.  This Misdemeanor crime statute falls into the highly suspect class of “Loitering” crimes.

Loitering crimes have a history of constitutional law issues.  Police and prosecutors often target disfavored people and classes.  A prostitution attorney sees this kind of discriminatory enforcement all the time.

A “loitering with intent” crime is often based upon subjective interpretations of others behavior (prone to bias), a series of speculations, to arrive at the other person’s “intent” without any real prohibited act, or act at all.

Felony Crimes

Though less common, prosecutors charge some prostitution-related crimes as a Felony.  Most felony prostitution charges include an alleged an underage person.

Solicitation, Inducement or Promotion of Prostitution (Any Age)

Minnesota Statutes Section 609.322.  Otherwise known as pimping.  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.


Age.  A person’s age alone can change the level of the criminal charge under the statutory scheme.  There are many 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.

Sex workers rights
Sex workers rights

Role.  The law treats Promoters more harshly than Customers, who in turn are treated more harshly than Prostitutes.

Location.  A charge is more severe when in a “Public Place.”  Housing, as well as “Place of Prostitution” can be factors.  Use of a motor vehicle, such as acts of prostitution in a car,  can result in a driver’s 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.

A skilled prostitution attorney takes a close look at the evidence of these factors, for defenses.

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 followed.  Police stings originating on websites like are now the norm.

One thing that has not changed is that most prostitution busts are sting operations or traps.  Once police apprehend a suspect, typically they will try 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 be less likely to be charged or convicted.

A prostitution attorney can help prevent charges, and resolves charged already filed favorably.

The Entrapment Defense

The entrapment defense is an affirmative defense.  The accused shows evidence in court that she or he (1) had no predisposition to commit the crime; and (2) that the crime would not have occurred but for the actions of police.

Most arrests in this area today are the product of a police sting or trap, but not every police sting  operation meets the criteria of a legal “entrapment” defense.  It is possible, however, to make an entrapment defense if police go too far.

The courts allow police to use a certain amount of deception in their work.  But sometimes they cross the line, and accuse people who have not committed any crime.  A good prostitution attorney is able to spot an entrapment defense when the facts support it.

Sentencing Entrapment applies when police manipulated the defendant to increase the severity level of the crime.  The enhancement element was not the product of the free will of the defendant.  If this happens, a good prostitution attorney will persuade the judge to disregard the enhancement.  Not a complete defense, sentencing entrapment provides a disincentive to police to create bigger crimes out of smaller ones.

Example:  Police lead a sting-target to a place expecting an 18 or older person, but along the way, bait and switch.  Police later tell the target the decoy is under 18 — and the target goes ahead anyway.  If the target was guilty of prostitution, he yet may be not-guilty of felony, underage prostitution due to sentencing entrapment.

More on Prostitution and Minnesota Law

For another take on this topic, see our popular article: Prostitution and Minnesota Law.

How a Prostitution Attorney Can Help

Thomas C. Gallagher, Minneapolis Prostitution Attorney
Thomas C. Gallagher, Minneapolis Prostitution Attorney

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.

Thomas C. Gallagher can bring you all of the knowledge and skills to achieve a favorable outcome.  His experience doesn’t hurt, either.

If you’d like to discuss this with Minneapolis Prostitution Attorney Thomas C Gallagher, call 612 333-1500.  Gallagher can use his 30 years experience to help you.