Should sex between consenting adults be a crime? What if money is exchanged or agreed upon? In Minnesota prostitution cases, who is more often arrested and charged with a crime, the prostitute or the john? Though not in all states and nations, in Minnesota prostitution law makes a crime of consensual sex for money. Prostitution charges are filed against Johns, or customers, more often than prostitutes.
Backpage prostitutes, and those on similar escort web sites like eros, predominate these days. Little prostitution happens on the street anymore. Police are aware of this, and routinely set up traps and sting operations, with their own backpage and other online ads. When the would-be client calls, a police officer lures them along, eventually to the destination — often a hotel room or apartment. Once inside, she (or he) soon confirms the arrangement of some sexual act for a price. She leaves the room “for a moment.” Police officers jump out for the arrest and what follows. Usually these events in the room are video and audio recorded. The client is invited to admit or offer excuses. Though it’s a mistake to do either, most do. Most are released after identification procedures. Police are then ready for the next one.
That is the time to retain an experienced prostitution defense attorney.
Is prostitution a misdemeanor? Usually. It can be charged as a gross misdemeanor as well, often with a claimed element of “public place.” It can also be charged as felony prostitution, based upon a claim of a patron’s agreement to hire a prostitute under 18 years old. Minnesota’s criminal statutes relating to prostitution crimes are in Sections 609.321 – 609.326.
Minnesota Statutes Section 609.325 “Defenses” seems to try to take away defenses, though it does create a defense for some prostitutes. Defenses can effectively be made to these charges, however. These cases are so easy for law enforcement, once their sting room and webpage is set up, that they often move patrons through as if an assembly line, one after the other. Over time, they cut corners to ave time and end up charging people on weak evidence — people who are not-guilty. An experienced prostitution defense lawyer can spot these cases.
Though less often charged compared to customers, sex workers are sometimes charged with prostitution. When they are, it’s not uncommon for the case to be weak, and not the result of a sting. Often people get charged with prostitution despite not engaging in it. This may be in part due to a lack of understanding on the part of police or prosecutors. For example, most sex workers want to have some security — someone to be aware of their whereabouts and personal safety. That person may not be aware of what the sex worker is doing. But we’ve had cases where the friend waiting in the parking lot for their friend to return after an errand, has been falsely charged with prostitution. Another example we’ve seen is a client who was an exotic dancer, or stripper, in a bar where police were present undercover in an effort to find violations by the bar owner. Police observed a bar customer grab our dancer client’s breast — a violation of norms in strip bars. Our dancer client yelled at him, kicked at him, stormed off the stage immediately, yelled at the bar owner tending bar, and retreated to her dressing room, shutting the door. Later, she was charged with prostitution. (We were able to get the charges dismissed, eventually.) Law enforcement stings today are focused upon customers, not prostitutes.
Breaking Free is a local non-profit that helps people engaged in prostitution get out of it.
Question? Call Minneapolis Prostitution Defense Attorney Thomas C. Gallagher at (612) 333-1500.