Prostitution is illegal in every state except Nevada, and penalties attach for both prostitutes and their patrons in Minnesota. If you have been charged with buying or selling sexual services, you may benefit from the assistance of a Hennepin prostitution lawyer. A knowledgeable attorney could build a comprehensive defense and work diligently to help you reduce or dismiss the charges against you.
What is Prostitution in Hennepin County?
Prostitution occurs when a person willingly agrees to exchange sexual services for money, including instances in which someone brokers the transaction. Minnesota Statute 609.324 outlines the full range of penalties depending on the age of the person providing the sexual services and whether the solicitation occurred in public or a private place. The harshest punishment is reserved for anyone who forces someone to engage in prostitution, which is considered sex trafficking. A conviction for sex trafficking could yield a penalty of up to 20 years in prison and a fine of $50,000.
The Penalties for Prostitution
Minnesota law similarly penalizes prostitutes and their patrons, unless the person the patron is soliciting is underage. Solicitation in a private place is a misdemeanor, and becomes a gross misdemeanor if it occurs in a public place. There is no jail time attached to this offense, but the fine for a misdemeanor is $500 and $1,500 for a gross misdemeanor. The courts could convert a fine to community service.
A second violation within two years of the first means that a misdemeanor for solicitation in a private place is automatically upgraded to a gross misdemeanor. In addition to the $1,500 fine, the courts may sentence a convicted person to 20 hours of community service.
If a motor vehicle is involved in the offense, the arrest will be noted on the patron’s driving record. The notation is only available to law enforcement unless the driver solicits a sex act again. Subsequent solicitations in a vehicle will be made public record. A local criminal defense attorney could explain the penalties an individual may face depending on the circumstances surrounding their arrest.
Penalties if the Person Solicited is a Minor
Charges mount against a patron when the person solicited for sex is a minor. If the solicited person is between 16 and 18 years of age, a patron could serve up to five years in prison and be fined $10,000. If they are between 13 and 16, the patron can be sentenced to ten years in prison and a $20,000 fine. If the solicited person is younger than 13, the patron can spend up to 20 years in prison and be fined $40,000.
Defenses to Prostitution Charges in Minnesota
An individual accused of engaging in prostitution can defend themselves against these charges in court. Some of the most common defenses to this crime include:
- Entrapment, which occurs when a government agent, usually law enforcement, comes up with the idea to commit a crime and induces someone who never would have committed the crime to participate
- Lack of evidence, which is when the officer arresting the alleged patron or solicited person cannot prove that the elements of prostitution were met, such as money changing hands or a clear offer to buy or sell sexual services
- Due process, which is violated when a police officer does not respect a defendant’s legal rights
- Lack of probable cause, which occurs when the arresting officer cannot prove a person was going to engage in prostitution
- Mistaken identity, which is applicable if a person was not soliciting prostitution
Contact a Hennepin County Prostitution Lawyer for Advice
If you are accused of engaging in prostitution, you may be overwhelmed by the charges you face and unsure of how to proceed. A Hennepin County prostitution lawyer could give you peace of mind and legal assistance as you navigate this situation, and help you achieve a desirable outcome in your case. Call today to schedule your initial consultation and learn more about your options.