Prostitution is illegal in the United States except for 8 counties in Nevada. And even in those 8 counties, prostitution is only legal inside 28 approved brothels. Outside of those brothels, though, prostitution is against the law. Including here in Minnesota.
So if you allegedly try to seek the services of a prostitute, you can be arrested for the crime of solicitation.
Interestingly, although solicitation most commonly refers to prostitution, you can also be charged with solicitation for a variety of other crimes, such as soliciting someone to commit murder.
But even solicitation of a prostitute isn’t completely straightforward. Did you know that solicitation can have a number of different consequences depending on the prostitute’s age?
Solicitation of an Adult
Under Minnesota law, if you engage in prostitution with an individual 18 years of age or above or hire or offer or agree to hire an individual 18 years of age or above to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact, you can be charged with solicitation.
In other words, even if you just simply agree to hire a prostitute, you can be arrested and charged with a crime without having to go any further. Crazy, but true.
And the punishment for soliciting an adult?
At a minimum, conviction will require you to pay a fine of at least $500. Maximum? Not more than 90 days in jail, a fine up to $1,000, or both.
If you are indigent or unable to pay this fine, you might be eligible for community service instead.
Solicitation of a Minor
Not surprisingly, if you solicit a prostitute who is a minor, you will be facing more serious charges – charges that vary depending on how young the child actually is.
- 16 to 18 years old: punishable by up to 5 years in jail, a fine of not more than $10,000, or both
- 13 to 16 years old: punishable by up to 10 years in jail, a fine of not more than $20,000, or both
- Under 13 years old: punishable by up to 20 years in jail, a fine of not more than $40,000, or both
As you can see, the penalties vary immensely within the different minor age groups, as well as between solicitation of a minor and an adult.
Which makes sense, because here in Minnesota and throughout the United States, child prostitution is seen as an appalling crime that is likely to be linked with human trafficking.
This is very important to understand if you have been charged with soliciting a minor, because there’s a huge chance that you will be judged harshly before the case is even tried – even if you had no way of knowing the alleged prostitute’s age or did not intend to solicit them for sex.
Defending Solicitation Charges
While it might seem hopeless if you’ve been accused of solicitation, a qualified solicitation attorney with a winning track record will be able to look at the facts of your case to determine if the charges can be reduced, dismissed, or dropped.
Depending on the specific circumstances, an attorney may try to argue that you didn’t actually commit the act. Or they might use an affirmative defense, admitting you committed the act, but arguing that you didn’t have any criminal intent.
This usually comes down to compensation. If there was no offer or intent to exchange money with a prostitute for specific services, then you can’t be convicted of solicitation. For prostitution or solicitation to occur, there has to be an exchange of money for sex or an offer to exchange money for sex.
In some cases, if the solicitor recants, or takes back, their original offer and intention to commit the crime and notifies the prostitute, then the solicitor might not be held liable for the crime as well.
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 (2014–2015), a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013–2015), and a Top 40 Under 40 Attorney (2013–2015).