What Is Soliciting Prostitution?

Soliciting prostitution describes the act of asking for or offering sexual contact or sexual penetration in exchange for money or other valuables. A solicitation charge applies to two parties: a sex worker offering sex in return for a fee, and the patron asking for sex in exchange for money. 

The offer and agreement to engage in sex in return for a fee amount to solicitation of prostitution, even if the actual sexual act does not happen. You can still face solicitation charges provided the intent to pay or receive payment for sex exist. A successful conviction might be possible even if money did not change hands. 

The prosecution only needs to demonstrate that you had the intent to pay or receive money for a sexual act. The penalties for solicitation of prostitution depend on the unique facts and circumstances of the alleged offense. 

You might face significant fines and prison time if you are accused of solicitation of prostitution in Minnesota, depending on the severity of the offense. Your best bet at protecting your rights, reputation, and freedom is working with the right lawyer for your unique situation. 

What Is Soliciting Prostitution?

Soliciting prostitution describes the actions or events happening before the sexual act, including but not limited to enticing, inviting, offering to hire, and agreeing to engage in sex for compensation. Solicitation falls into different categories: solicitation by a prostitute and solicitation by a patron. 

Solicitation by a Prostitute 

Solicitation by a prostitute refers to someone offering or accepting to engage in sexual contact or sexual penetration with someone else in return for a fee or other valuables. Prosecutors do not have to prove that there was a specific offer to perform a sexual act for money. Instead, they just need to show that an intent to sell sexual services existed. A prostitute who bargains the price for different sexual acts with a patron may, for instance, face solicitation charges.

On top of the offer, intent must exist for a solicitation charge to result in a conviction. The prosecution must demonstrate the alleged offender took reasonable steps to perform sexual acts for compensation for a judge to convict the offender. Making an offer without serious effort or intent to perform the sexual act does not qualify as soliciting prostitution. 

Solicitation by a Patron 

Prostitution solicitation charges also apply to the patron (buyer or recipient) of illegal sexual acts. An offer and intent must exist for an alleged offender to be convicted of soliciting prostitution. This crime happens when a person offers to pay another person for a sexual encounter. The offer goes beyond asking for sexual services in exchange for a fee. It also includes the patron bargaining a price for a specific sexual act with the prostitute. 

Besides the offer, a serious effort to engage in prostitution must exist. The patron must have, for instance, offered to pay for sexual services. No crime has happened in a situation where a patron is without any intent to move forward with paying for the sex acts. 

Minnesota solicitation of prostitution defense attorney can review the unique circumstance of your case to determine if the specific intent exists. The attorney can then build a solid defense to have your charges reduced or dropped altogether. 

Who Can Get Arrested for Soliciting Prostitution? 

An offer and a serious attempt to engage in an unlawful sexual act must exist for you to get arrested and charged with solicitation of prostitution. A known prostitute cannot be arrested for simply standing on the street. The prostitute can, however, be arrested if the prostitute lists the price of his or her services or negotiates the price with an undercover cop acting as a patron. 

Several states, including Minnesota, have safe harbor laws that protect minors under a specific age from arrest and prosecution for prostitution solicitation. These laws treat minors as sex trafficking victims or candidates for protection services, not criminals. 

Penalties for Soliciting Prostitution

Minnesota categorizes soliciting prostitution as a gross misdemeanor or felony based on the circumstances of the alleged offense. 

Gross Misdemeanor Solicitation of Prostitution

Soliciting prostitution in Minnesota is often a gross misdemeanor, carrying a jail time of up to 90 days and a fine of up to $1,500. The court may replace all or a part of the minimum fine ordered with community work services if it determines the convicted defendant is indigent or fine payment would cause unnecessary hardship for the defendant or the defendant’s family. 

If you have a previous conviction of sex crime on your record within the last ten years, you will face a felony charge instead of a gross misdemeanor. The penalties will increase to a jail time of up to 5 years and up to $10,000 in fines. 

Courts rarely show leniency when dealing with a repeat offender. As such, you stand a better chance of getting a less severe sentence if you work with a skilled defense attorney than fighting the charges by yourself. 

Felony Solicitation of Prostitution

Prostitution solicitation is sometimes a felony-level offense. An example is when a defendant is accused of solicitation of a minor – a person below 18 years of age. The severity of the penalties increases as the age of the solicited child reduces. The following penalties apply to the conviction of soliciting a minor: 

  • An imprisonment of up to 20 years and up to $40,000 in fines for soliciting a child under 14 years; 
  • An imprisonment of up to 10 years and up to $20,000 in fines for soliciting a child aged at least 14 but under 16 years; and 
  • Up to 5-year imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine for soliciting a child aged at least 16 but under 18 years. 

Solicitation and communication involving sexual conduct with a minor also amounts to a felony-level offense. A conviction can result in a lengthy prison sentence, huge fines, and other undesirable consequences. 

Police officers have a right to seize any vehicle used for soliciting a prostitute. They can also seize any personal property, such as a cell phone, laptop, communication device, or money, used to commit the crime. 

Common Defense to Prostitution Solicitation 

Various defenses are available to the charges of prostitution solicitation. The right defense for your situation will depend on the specific details of your case and available evidence. A knowledgeable criminal defense lawyer can help you determine the best defense to raise in your specific case. 

Entrapment 

Entrapment is the most common defense in prostitution solicitation cases. You raise this defense in your case if a police officer induced or pressured you into engaging in prostitution when you would otherwise not have done it. 

Many arrests related to solicitation for prostitution stem from an undercover law enforcement officer or agent posing as a prostitute or patron. Consequently, entrapment is one of the most commonly raised defenses in solicitation cases. 

You must demonstrate that the undercover officer or agent forced or coerced you to engage in unlawful conduct for the entrapment defense to be successful. The coercion must be sufficient to compel an otherwise law-abiding citizen to commit a crime. 

Lack of Intent 

This defense involves claiming that you had no intent to pay for sexual services, even if you made an offer. The burden of proving that you made an offer and intended to follow through with the prostitution act lies with the prosecution. This defense can result in a positive outcome if you show that you had no purpose to make good on the offer made or accepted.

False Accusation

This defense involves arguing that you did not engage in prostitution and the allegations against you are untrue. You can raise this defense if you are going through a contested divorce with a vengeful spouse who falsely accuses you of selling or procuring sexual services to tarnish your reputation. A defense lawyer can help you gather, organize, and present adequate evidence to prove you did not engage in unlawful conduct. 

This defense simply argues that a law enforcement officer made a mistake during the arrest. The law requires law enforcement officers to have a reasonable cause to believe that a person intends to solicit prostitution before making an arrest. 

An officer in an unmarked police vehicle cannot arrest you for simply approaching a vehicle and talking to the person inside. You could bring a motion to dismiss with the help of your attorney if an arresting officer did not have a reasonable cause to arrest you. 

Constitutional Rights Violation 

Law enforcement officers may sometimes violate an alleged offender’s constitutional rights. This violation can happen when an officer fails to read your Miranda rights during an arrest. It can also occur when an officer searches or seizes you, your property, and your vehicle without probable cause. In either case, your attorney can guide you on the steps to get any evidence obtained excluded from your case. If successful, the prosecution might drop the charges for soliciting prostitution if no further evidence is available to hold you criminally accountable for the alleged offense.

Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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