Prostitution is illegal in Minnesota. Buying sex (solicitation), selling services of a prostitute and selling sexual services are all prohibited. The crime of forcing others into prostitution is further prosecuted under sex trafficking law. Nevada is the only state in the country with a limited form of legal prostitution in 11 counties).
All parts of the practice of prostitution are prohibited under Minnesota law. These include:
1. Sex Trafficking in the First Degree:
- Sex Trafficking–soliciting or inducing a person under the age of 18 to be a prostitute (i.e., hiring them to engage in any sexual activity).
- Promoting the prostitution of someone under 18 years old–procuring customers, managing or owning a place or business of prostitution or transporting a person for sexual activity.
- Receiving the profits of prostitution.
- Any sex trafficking for a person under 18.
2. Sex Trafficking in the Second Degree:
- Soliciting or inducing a person to practice prostitution.
- Promoting prostitution.
- Knowingly receiving a profit from the prostitution of another person.
- Sex trafficking–buying and selling prostitution services as a business.
- Housing or hiring minors for prostitution (under 18 years old).
- Hiring adult prostitutes.
- Prostitution itself.
Criminal penalties for prostitution crimes are severe.
First Degree Sex Trafficking means prison for up to 20 years and fines up to $50,000. The penalty is increased to 25 years and fines to $60,000 with evidence that victims suffering harm, bondage, or forced labor during the crime.
Second Degree Sex Trafficking means prison terms up to 15 years and fines up to $40,000.
Hiring minors for prostitution varies with the age.
- Under 13–up to 20 years in prison and fines up to $40,000.
- Between 13 and 15–prison up to 10 years. and fines up to $20,000.
- Between 16 and 17 –up to 5 years in prison and fines of $10,000.
- Housing minors for prostitution–prison to 1 year and fines up to $3,000.
Being the customer of a prostitute.
- Being a customer in a public place means fines of at least $1,500 or equivalent public service.
- Being a customer in a private place means fines of at least $500.
- Having prior prostitution convictions within 2 years means a fine of $1,500 plus 20 hours of community service.
- Using a car to solicit prostitution the offense is added to the convicted person’s driving record (readable only by law enforcement for the first offense–made public if there is a second offense).
- Prostitution crimes in a park or school zone increase the penalties up to 3 years.
For prostitutes, the penalties depend on location and prior convictions.
- Being hired in public by an adult means up to 1 year in prison and fines to$3,000.
- Agreeing to be hired in a non-public place means 90 days in jail and fine of $1,000. Prior prostitution raises the level of the crime to a gross misdemeanor with an increased sentence.
- Loitering in a public place for prostitution is a misdemeanor.
If you are convicted of sex trafficking with a minor, you will be required to register as a sex offender on the Minnesota sex trafficker registry.
If you are accused of a sex trafficking offense, there are a number of defenses you can use if they correspond to your case.
- If you can demonstrate that you were a sex trafficker against your will and were afraid of physical harm if you refused, that could be a defense.
- Children (under 18) or older adults (over 55) are exempt from prosecution for any support they received from the profits of prostitution.
- The defense of entrapment is commonly used in sex trafficking cases. Most of the arrests in these cases are made by under-cover agents projecting themselves as sex workers or pimps. You can defend against the charge if you can prove the arresting agent actively lured you into engaging in prostitution. In some cases, law-abiding citizens are convinced by arresting agents to engage in the practice when they had no intention of doing so.
- Legal impossibility is another defense. If you were solicited to commit sexual trafficking online by an agent through electronic media, you may raise the question of legal impossibility which means that you could not have had real sex with that agent.
- If you have a strong conviction that the sex worker you engaged was over the age of 18, because of false identity or misrepresentation, that could reduce the severity of the conviction.
- Often the conviction lacks sufficient evidence for conviction. When not all evidence of the charge could be demonstrated by the prosecution or the cash for services agreement can not be demonstrated, there could be grounds for this defense of insufficient evidence.
- Mistake is a common defense. If the defense can prove they did not intend to engage in a sex act there can be no conviction. Responding to a telephone or text proposition by a call girl does not, in itself, constitute a crime.
Sexual trafficking is a serious crime that could affect the course of your entire life. If you face a criminal charge, you need a strong defense lawyer.
Jennifer Speas has provided clients throughout Minneapolis, St. Paul, the Twin Cities metro, and all throughout Minnesota with the highly skilled and assertive criminal defense for over 20 years. Please contact us to learn more.
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