So you’ve been charged with prostitution or solicitation charges in Minnesota. What do you do to create the best defense?
In a previous blog post, we laid out the basic charges and penalties for soliciting a prostitute in Minnesota. If you want to better understand what you are facing, checking it out may clear a few things up for you.
But what about when your specific circumstances lead to you facing additional penalties? How does that impact your defense strategy?
Penalties Depend on Age and Location
Remember that basic penalties serve as just the minimum requirements if you are convicted, and additional penalties may be added on to your case. For example, if you are charged with prostitution that involves an adult, you may be hit with extra penalties for where you engaged in the act. Public places, your car, and if you are in the vicinity of a park or school zone, you will face additional jail time and fees.
If you are charged with soliciting a minor, the penalties upon conviction will depend on the age of the minor. For example, soliciting a prostitute who is 16 or 17 years old can result in up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines. Soliciting a child under the age of 13 can result in up to 20 years in prison and $40,000 in fines.
Knowing these additional penalties may be able to help you mitigate your sentence. If the location of the incident is causing you extra problems, you may want to focus on a strategy attempting to prove that the crime occurred in a more acceptable space rather than arguing your overall innocence.
Unfortunately, mistaking a minor prostitute as an adult is not a valid defense strategy in the state of Minnesota. Neither is having consent.
However, there are exceptions to prostitution laws that can inform the defense strategy you use in court. By applying the following strategies and enlisting the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer, the court may drop charges or eliminate penalties against you.
Exceptions to Prostitution Charges. Minnesota law recognizes that often young prostitutes enter the business because they have nowhere else to turn and must support their families. Because of this, there are exceptions for cases like this. The following individuals are considered exempt from charges of benefitting financially from sex trafficking:
- Minors who are dependent on earnings as a prostitute or benefit from an individual’s earnings that come from prostitution
- Seniors (over the age of 55) who benefit from a child’s earnings from prostitution, or those who were unaware the earnings were from prostitution
- Caretakers who are housing prostitutes through public or private social service agency residential placements
If these exceptions apply to you and you are facing charges, contact a knowledgeable prostitution attorney immediately.
Entrapment. Law enforcement sometimes sets up “stings” to catch criminals in the act of engaging in prostitution. Undercover officers may pose as prostitutes, johns, customers, and so on in order to lure people into committing these crimes. Sometimes, however, they can cross the line in their efforts and commit entrapment. Knowing the signs of entrapment may be the key to getting your charges dropped.
One Defense That Typically Doesn’t Work. We mentioned earlier that mistakes in age or consent will not work to defend prostitution charges. Well, there’s one more big one that most people shouldn’t attempt, but many ask about: arguing that you didn’t do it.
Now, there are certainly exceptions to this rule. Maybe you were caught on video but it is a case of mistaken identity and you and provide incontrovertible evidence that you were somewhere else at the time. Great.
But in most cases, “I didn’t do it” isn’t a proper defense. There is usually solid evidence against this claim, especially if you were caught red-handed in a prostitution sting.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is a Minneapolis-based criminal and DWI defense attorney known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge, and recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyers Rising Star (2014–2016), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2016), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2016).