There are many common misconceptions about Minnesota’s prostitution laws. In this article we’ll debunk many of the prevalent myths about prostitution in Minnesota.
Myth: An officer cannot expose himself, or have sex with a provider before arresting her.
Fact: Police have been known to do both of these things to catch suspected prostitutes. Do not assume that a client who exposes himself cannot be a cop. In State v. Morris, a Minnesota appeals court ruled that an officer exposing himself to a prostitute wasn't outrageous enough to overturn a conviction. Cops will go to great lengths to make arrests.
If Sex Occurs There's No Legal Trouble
Myth: If a client actually has sex with a provider, the provider can't get into legal trouble.
Fact: While it is unlikely that an officer would actually have sex with a provider, there have been cases wherein the police have hired a civilian to participate in a sting operation. These civilians could go through with the sex act and the police would still be able to charge the provider.
Streets vs. Online Postings
Myth: Police only target providers who work on the streets.
Fact: In many areas of Minnesota, more providers have been caught through postings on Craigslist and other websites than have been arrested on the streets. Prostitution is now very much an online business.
The Money Transaction
Myth: You cannot be found guilty of prostitution if the client doesn't physically hand you the money.
Fact: Juries often conclude that an offer or agreement to have sex for money was implied by your words or actions. If the prosecution can prove that the client contacted you looking for sex, that you agreed to a meeting, and that he brought money to the meeting, you will likely be convicted whether or not he actually gave you any money.
The Criminal Penalties
Myth: Prostitution is a petty crime with only minor consequences.
Fact: The least serious prostitution charge is a misdemeanor, the maximum penalty for which is a $1,000 fine and no more than 90 days in jail. First offenses that occur in private homes usually fall under this category.
Prostitution offenses can also be classified as gross misdemeanors, which carry a maximum fine of $3,000 and a maximum sentence of 1 year in jail. Providers who commit public acts of prostitution, solicitation of prostitution, or who have past convictions for prostitution are generally charged with gross misdemeanors.
Felony prostitution offenses can result in prison sentences of more than a year or fines of more than $3,000. Typical prostitution felonies involve minors, promoting prostitution, or prostitution-related racketeering charges.
More Than Fines and Jail
Myth: If convicted of prostitution in Minnesota, you can only get fined or go to jail.
Fact: Police may seize any property used to commit or help commit a crime. So if you use your computer or phone to book appointments, or drive your car to meet clients, the police can take these away from you.
Public Records of Prostitution Charges
Myth: If you get arrested, no one will know.
Fact: Providers are charged under their real names, and arrest records are public knowledge. In addition, the St. Paul and Minneapolis police departments often post the names and photos of prostitution offenders on their websites. Prostitution convictions stay on a person's record forever and will pop up whenever background checks of any kind are conducted.