Many people in the Twin Cities who follow the news will notice that sometimes people are charged with conspiracy crimes but that their involvement with any actual criminal activity is minor or nonexistent. How can someone be convicted of something they only knew about? What is enough to be found guilty of conspiracy? For one St. Paul man, it appears that giving women a few rides and being paid for gas was enough to be convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking.
Ramsey County prosecutors alleged that he was involved in his family’s supposed prostitution ring, but the 56-year-old St. Paul native’s lawyer said that he was quite surprised to learn that any kind of prostitution activity was happening in his home, as claimed by prosecutors. The mother of the man’s children, his brother and his nephews were all allegedly involved in the ring.
While prosecutors claim that his home was the center of operations for the prostitution ring, is that enough to be convicted of conspiracy? Just because something is happening in a home doesn’t mean that the homeowner is aware of it. If the 56-year-old had no idea what was happening, did he have a duty to investigate or call police about suspicious behavior? At what point does it cross over into being a conspiracy? All of these answers are dependent on the situation and something a criminal defense lawyer will have to argue in court.
Fortunately for the man, the judge recognized his minor involvement and sentenced him to probation and community service.
Source: Pioneer Press, “St. Paul man gets community service for role in family’s sex-trafficking business,” Emily Gurnon, Sept. 12, 2013