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Minnesota Prostitution and Solicitation Laws

Prostitution is illegal in Minnesota and the penalties can be harsh, including jail time and sex offender registration. Buying (solicitation), selling, and pimping sex are all prohibited. Now the most egregious offenses of forcing others into prostitution are prosecuted under “sex trafficking” laws.

The following table briefly explains the prostitution laws in Minnesota.

Code Sections Minnesota Statutes Sections 609.321 – Definitions, 609.322 – Solicitation, Inducement, Promotion of Prostitution, and Sex Trafficking, and 609.324 – Patrons, Prostitutes, and Housing Individuals Engaged in Prostitution
What’s Prohibited? Minnesota law prohibits basically all parts of prostitution-related activities, including:
  • Sex Trafficking the First Degree – any of the following:
    • Soliciting or inducing a person under 18 to be a prostitute (i.e. being hired to engage in sexual penetration, whether oral, vaginal, or anal sex, or other sexual contact)
    • Promoting the prostitution of a person under 18 years old
      • Promoting prostitution is soliciting or procuring customers for a prostitute; providing, owning, or managing a place for prostitution or business of prostitution; admitting customers into the place or prostitution; or transporting an individual to prostitute him or her
    • Receiving profit knowing it came from the prostitution of a person under 18
    • Sex trafficking (recruiting, enticing, harboring, providing, or obtaining a person to prostitute him or her) a person under 18
  • Sex Trafficking in the Second Degree – any of the following:
    • Soliciting or inducing a person to practice prostitution
    • Promoting the prostitution of an individual
    • Knowingly receiving a profit from prostitution of another (some exceptions, see Defenses below)
    • Sex trafficking anyone
  • Housing Unrelated Minors for Prostitution – Permitting an unrelated child, without the parents’ consent, to live with you, knowing that the child is engaging in prostitution
  • Hiring a Minor Prostitute - Intentionally engaging in prostitution or hiring or offering to hire a minor under 18 to engage in sexual penetration or contact
  • Hiring Adult Prostitutes – Engaging in prostitution or hiring or offering to hire an adult for prostitution is prohibited
  • Prostitution – Engaging in prostitution, agreeing to be hired, or offering to be hired with a person 18 or older
Penalties The penalties for the above crimes are described below.

Sex Trafficking in the First Degree is penalized by up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000. However, with a prior human trafficking-related conviction (including sex or labor trafficking crimes) within 10 years, or for the victim suffering physical harm during the crime, holding the victim in debt bondage or forced labor for over 180 days, or having more than one sex trafficking victim, the penalty maximum is increased to 25 years and a $60,000 fine.

Sex Trafficking in the Second Degree is punished by no more than 15 years in prison and a fine up to $40,000.

The penalty for hiring a minor prostitute depends on the child’s age:

  • For a child under 13, the penalty is not more than 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $40,000
  • For a child between 13 and 15, the maximum penalty is 10 years and a fine of $20,000
  • For a child who is 16 or 17 years old, the penalty is at most 5 years in prison and a fine of $10,000

Housing Unrelated Minors for Prostitution can be sentenced by up to 1 year in jail and a fine up to $3,000.

Penalties for customers of adult prostitutes depend on the prostitution location and prior offenses.

  • In a public place, the offender must pay a fine of at least $1,500 (this can be converted to community service if the person is low-income and the fine would create an undue hardship for the person or his or her family)
  • In a private place, the fine is a minimum of $500
  • With a prior prostitution related conviction within 2 years of the current conviction, the offender must pay $1,500 and do 20 hours of community service (which can be waived if not feasible, for example, due to disabilities or other hardships)
  • If the sex buyer used a car in his or her solicitation, then it will be added to the person’s driving record, for the first offense this data will only be viewable by law enforcement, for a second conviction the information will be public
  • If the crime occurred in a park or school zone, the penalties will be increased by at most three years longer than the usual maximum sentence

Court Assessments

Adult sex buyers and sex traffickers will also be assessed a minimum of $500 and maximum of $1,000, depending on the crime, to be spent on police enforcement and education on the sexual exploitation of youth, prosecution of sex crimes, and crime victim services for sexually exploited youth. A low-income person who had a public defender will have to pay a minimum of $100.

Penalties for prostitutes also depend on where the activity occurred and prior convictions:

  • For engaging in prostitution or being hired in public with a person 18 or older, the crime is a gross misdemeanor, punishable by at most 1 year in jail and a $3,000 fine.
  • For being hired, offering to be hired, or agreeing to sex not in a public place, the crime is a misdemeanor that can be penalized by up to 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
    • With a prior prostitution conviction, this crime is also a gross misdemeanor.
  • Loitering in a public place to participate in prostitution is also a misdemeanor.

Predatory Offender Registry

If convicted of sex trafficking of a minor or hiring a prostitute under 13 years old, you’ll be required to register as a sex offender in Minnesota. Obviously, being a registered sex offender will significantly affect your life, restricting where you can work and live and changing who wants to associate with you once they know.

Defenses There are several statutory defenses, in addition to any other defenses that may apply to a case. Being a sex trafficking victim who was afraid of being beaten if he or she didn’t engage in prostitution is a defense against prostitution-related charges.

Also, children or older adults (over 55) who are supported by a prostitute’s earnings are exempt from the benefiting financially from sex trafficking prohibition. This helps prostitutes who are trying to provide for their families. Housing unrelated minors for prostitution doesn’t apply to public or private social service agency residential placements (i.e. foster care or prostitution recovery programs).

It’s not a defense that a person solicited to engage in prostitution didn’t actually do it or had previously engaged in prostitution. Also, mistake as to age or consent is no defense to prostitution charges with minors.
Protection Orders The parent or guardian of a child who knows or believes a person is trying to coerce or solicit the child into prostitution by offering food, shelter, or other things to enable the prostitution may seek a protection order for the child. This protection order is requested in juvenile court and a hearing will occur within 14 days of, assuming the individual was informed of the hearing at least 5 days before.

The court can order the return of a minor child to the parent or guardian, that the pimp stop promoting or prostituting the child, and that he or she have no more contact with the child. Violating this protection order is a crime. Failing to return the child is considered the crime of depriving a person of custodial or parental rights.

Note: State laws change frequently. It’s important to verify these laws.

If you’re facing a prostitution-related charge, contact a local criminal defense attorney.

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