Solicitation of a prostitute is a crime that occurs when you hire, agree to hire, or offer to hire someone for sexual contact or sexual penetration. The base-level charge for this crime involving an adult prostitute is a misdemeanor. But if it happens in a public place, it becomes a gross misdemeanor charge.
Solicitation of a prostitute can also attract a felony charge when you solicit someone under the age of 18. The charges for soliciting prostitution include paying fines, facing possible jail time, losing the right to vote, and having difficulty finding a job.
What Is the Solicitation of a Prostitute?
Hiring, offering to hire, or agreeing to hire someone to engage in sex is a solicitation. Under Minnesota laws, sexual contact involves the intentional touching of a prostitute’s intimate parts by an individual. It also involves the intentional touching of an individual’s private parts by a prostitute.
If the crime involves a child, the charges are quite severe. Minnesota law considers the charges as an act of sharing sexually explicit material or engaging in sexual conduct with a child. A child means an individual who is 17 years old or younger. Sexual conduct refers to sexual performance, sexual penetration, or sexual contact with someone’s primary genital area.
Soliciting is the act of entreating, commanding, or trying to persuade someone by letter, phone, or a computerized device or in person. It can happen electronically when an adult uses a device that stores or transmits electronic data. Solicitation qualifies as a sex crime if the intent is to arouse sexual desire in someone.
Distributing any material, form of communication, or language that describes or relates to sexual conduct is also soliciting. Examples of soliciting materials include a photograph or a video.
Examples of Soliciting a Prostitute
Soliciting a prostitute can take different forms in Minnesota. Here are the common examples of this crime:
- Walking up to someone on a street corner, inquiring about the price of sexual intercourse, and offering that person money in exchange for sexual services.
- Driving a car up to a person who is wandering on a street corner and offering to pay that person for a sexual act.
- Asking for sex from a prostitute and agreeing to pay or meet the prostitute according to his or her instructions.
- Using the internet to engage with a pimp or prostitute and then agreeing to his or her instructions.
- Negotiating services and prices with a pimp and agreeing to pay.
- Exchanging drugs with a prostitute for a sexual or lewd act.
Police officers can also face soliciting charges. A good example is when an officer asks a driver to perform a sexual act to avoid getting a traffic ticket.
What Are the Most Common Charges for Solicitation of a Prostitute in Minnesota?
Depending on the underlying circumstances, soliciting a prostitute can attract misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charges. It also qualifies as a felony.
Misdemeanor Charge for Soliciting a Prostitute
At the base level, you may face a misdemeanor charge for soliciting an adult (someone over 18 years) prostitute. The offense carries a $1,000 fine and jail time of up to 90 days. Unlike most misdemeanor charges in Minnesota, the minimum mandated fine for all convictions of this offense is $500. A conviction may also attract a special penalty assessment fee of between $500 and $750.
The offense will qualify as a gross misdemeanor if it happens in a public place. State law enforcement officers usually carry out sting operations in public places to catch people who are soliciting prostitutes. The definition of a public place also includes privately-rented hotel rooms.
A second offense related to prostitution will qualify as a gross misdemeanor two years after a previous conviction. Penalties for gross misdemeanor solicitation are a $3,000 fine and jail time of up to 365 days. Offenders have to pay a special penalty assessment fee and a minimum fine for a gross misdemeanor. The penalty assessment fee ranges between $750 and $1,000.
Felony Charge for Soliciting a Prostitute
Soliciting a person below the age of 18 years for sex can attract felony solicitation charges. The penalties for this offense are more severe depending on the age of the minor.
If the child is below 14 years of age, you may pay a maximum fine of $40,000 and face a prison time of up to 20 years. The penalties for soliciting a child between 14 and 15 years include up to $20,000 in fines and a prison time of up to 10 years. You may also pay a fine of up to $10,000 and face a prison time of up to five years for soliciting a child aged between 16 and 17 years.
Consequences for Getting Convicted of Soliciting a Prostitute
When convicted for soliciting a prostitute in Minnesota, the common penalties include a fine and jail time or imprisonment. These penalties vary with the type of charge and the underlining circumstances. Besides these penalties, a conviction will have consequences on your life. Some of these consequences include:
Forfeiture of Motor Vehicle
If the police officer caught you using a motor vehicle to solicit a prostitute for sex, the officer would confiscate it. The seizure and forfeiture will apply to your case whether you are a first-time or repeat offender. It helps in the investigation and provides evidence for your prosecution.
Forfeiture of Personal Property
Police officers seize personal items, such as money, computers, and cell phones, which the offender used to commit the crime. They submit these items to the police station as pieces of evidence.
Suspension or Loss of a Professional License and Difficulty Finding a Job
A conviction for soliciting a prostitute can make it difficult for you to find a job once you serve the prison or jail term. It may also make you lose your professional license or result in license suspension. The conviction will show up in background checks that most employers carry out on potential employees.
Conviction Certification to Driving Record
When convicted of soliciting a prostitute, your driving record will have a permanent record of the conviction. As such, you may face stricter penalties if found guilty of a traffic offense.
Only law enforcement officers can view the record of conviction for first-time offenders. For repeat offenders, the record will be available in the public domain.
Loss of Right to Vote
A soliciting conviction can lead to the loss of certain civil rights, such as the right to vote. Convicted felons lose their right to serve on a jury as well.
Defenses to Soliciting Prostitution
Several defense strategies are available to you when facing sex crime charges for soliciting a prostitute in Minnesota. They include lack of a request, lack of intent, false accusations, and entrapment. A criminal defense lawyer can help you decide the best strategy to pursue in your case.
Under Minnesota laws on solicitation, defendants cannot use lack of sexual contact as a defense. Defendants tend to use this defense when arrested by an undercover cop who posed as a prostitute. Soliciting a prostitute only needs an offer and intent. The fact that the defendant and prostitute did not engage in sex will not prevent the prosecution from building the case.
A mistake of age is also not a defense under Minnesota laws. The offender will still face the charges, even if the offender believed that the prostitute was an adult.
Due to the stigma surrounding solicitation cases, you may get accused of solicitation for vengeance or payback. If your lawyer can prove that the accusations are false, you may have a fighting chance.
For this defense strategy, your lawyer may argue that the police coerced you into soliciting a prostitute. It could apply to your case if the officer arrested you during an undercover sting.
For this defense to help your case, you will have to prove that the officer pressured you into soliciting. The pressure must have been adequate to compel a law-abiding citizen into the offense.
Lack of a Request
Soliciting a prostitute is only a sex crime when you request sexual activity. If you did not make any request, you can use this argument to undermine the prosecutor’s allegations. A good example is when you are driving on a street filled with prostitutes, and you get lost. There’s no crime in asking one of the prostitutes for directions.
Lack of Intent
For the charges to suffice in court, the prosecutor has to prove intent. So, if you did not intend to engage in a sexual act, your lawyer can use this argument in your defense. A good example is when your friends dare you to offer money to a prostitute for sex. In this scenario, you made the offer to respond to the dare. However, you did not intend to do anything further than that.
Your lawyer could use this defense if someone else committed the crime or you are a sex trafficking victim incorrectly identified as a prostitute by law enforcement officers during an operation. The lawyer can also use it to dismiss the prosecutor’s claims if the alleged crime did not happen.