Is Solicitation a Felony?
Many people do not consider prostitution or solicitation of prostitution illegal. However, in some jurisdictions, including the U.S., prostitution and soliciting prostitution are sex crimes. You risk a jail sentence, being fined, and a permanent criminal record if you are charged with any of these offenses or any other prostitution-related crime. In some states, a solicitation offense is punished more severely than prostitution.
However, there is no need to panic if you or your loved one is charged with solicitation of prostitution. An essential thing you should do is hire an experienced criminal prostitution lawyer. By establishing an attorney-client relationship with a criminal defense law firm in your city, you have increased the chances of avoiding a conviction or getting the penalty reduced.
Blank Law, PC is a top criminal defense law firm in Michigan that handles sex crimes.
We help defendants present a solid defense tailored to their particular case. Our experienced legal team is available to help with your case. You can set up a free consultation with us today.
Is Solicitation a Felony?
The solicitation of prostitution is a criminal offense in many states in the U.S. The individual state laws apply in the case of soliciting a prostitute, as it is not typically an area covered by federal law. Each state charges and punishes people found guilty of this criminal act under its laws.
You commit a crime if you accost or solicit another person to commit prostitution or engage in sexual activity in Michigan. The Michigan criminal law (Michigan Penal Code 750.448) states that anyone above the age of 16 who invites or solicits someone else to engage in lewd conduct or commit prostitution in a public area or building or from a vehicle by words, gestures, or any other means is guilty of a criminal offense.
Also, the Michigan Penal Code 750.449 states that it is a crime for someone older than 16 to receive or offer to admit another person into any building or location for prostitution. The two crimes are misdemeanors, punishable by a maximum 93-day jail sentence, a $500 fine, or both.
Therefore, anyone arrested for solicitation in Michigan faces a misdemeanor charge. Solicitation is not a felony in Michigan. Like other misdemeanor sex crimes, a solicitation charge is treated as a lesser offense with less severe punishment.
With that being said, solicitation may be treated as a felony crime in some states when it occurs amidst aggravating circumstances. For example, if it involves a child, an underlying crime, or third degree felonies, like theft, it may be considered a state jail felony (learn more about the solicitation of a minor here). Also, solicitation may be regarded as a state jail felony if the offender has been convicted of solicitation before.
The Difference Between Prostitution and Soliciting Prostitution
Not only do you commit a crime if you engage in prostitution, but it is also a criminal act to solicit prostitution. Prostitution and soliciting prostitution are two separate criminal offenses. However, people may find it challenging to distinguish them.
You commit a crime of prostitution if you provide sexual favors in exchange for money or any other compensation. However, the acts done before prostitution occurs are referred to as solicitation.
So, if you are arrested while discussing payment with someone else in exchange for sex, although it is not prostitution, technically, you have broken the law nonetheless. Thus, you may be charged with solicitation if you offer, accept an offer, or hire someone to engage in any sexual activity for money.
Solicitation is not the same as compelling prostitution. Solicitation refers to the acts taken before engaging in prostitution, while compelling prostitution refers to forcing someone to be involved in prostitution. The solicitation does not include the use of force. It occurs when someone tries to engage in prostitution through words, actions, or other conduct. It is the attempt to offer or convince someone to participate in a sexual act.
Generally, solicitation can be categorized into two broad categories, depending on the party soliciting. On the one hand, solicitation may be done by a prostitute who offers or agrees to perform sexual favors for a cash payment or other compensation. On the other hand, solicitation of prostitution could occur when a patron or customer offers or agrees to pay for sexual acts.
What Acts Amount to Solicitation in Michigan?
Sometimes, people find it challenging to identify the acts that amount to a solicitation. Not all conduct or behavior occurring before prostitution is regarded as solicitation. The law requires that there must be evidence of an intent to engage in prostitution for the occurrence of solicitation.
Therefore, police officers must be able to prove intent of prostitution when they arrest someone for solicitation. Where this specific intent is absent, solicitation cannot occur. For example, it would be difficult to prove intent when the act is done as a joke. As such, the court may be reluctant to consider it a solicitation. Therefore, intent is integral to a valid solicitation charge.
Although numerous acts could be regarded as solicitation, here are a few examples:
- Driving your car to a lady on the street and offering to pay her in return for a sex act
- Offering drugs to a prostitute in exchange for sexual conduct of any kind
- Negotiating and agreeing on costs and sexual acts to be provided with a pimp
- Walking up to someone on the street and asking how much it would cost to engage in a sex act with them
A person may be guilty of solicitation whether or not money is exchanged. Once someone acts with the intent to get another person to engage in prostitution, the former is guilty of solicitation.
Also, solicitation of prostitution does not solely occur in physical locations. There are soliciting prostitution online charges. Michigan Law prohibits the use of the internet to commit a sex crime. Therefore, any act done online to get someone to engage in prostitution violates Michigan Law and is illegal. The person who does the action could be charged with soliciting prostitution online.
In addition, you can commit a crime and be charged with solicitation even though the act is not completed. For example, if someone invites a prostitute to their car or drives to a place where a prostitute is, it may show evidence of intent to engage in prostitution even though the act is not completed. Thus, they would be guilty of solicitation.
What are the Penalties for Solicitation in Michigan?
Even though solicitation of prostitution is typically considered a misdemeanor in Michigan, it attracts harsh consequences. If you are found guilty of a solicitation, you may receive a 93-day jail term, a fine of up to $500, or both as a first-time offender.
However, if you have been convicted of a previous crime, you risk jail time of up to one year and a $1,000 fine. If you have been convicted of two crimes before, you may be sentenced to prison for two years and required to pay a fine of up to $2,000. In some other states, you may also face probation and be given a permanent criminal record.
Would You Be Required to Register with the Sex Offender Registry if You are Convicted of Solicitation in Michigan?
All sex crimes are seen as criminal sexual conduct in Michigan. Four degrees of criminal sexual conduct exist, covering sex crimes involving sexual penetration and sexual contact. The severity of the penalties attached to each sex crime depends on the degree of criminal sexual conduct under which it falls.
Criminal sexual conduct 1st degree attracts the most severe penalties, while criminal sexual conduct 4th degree carries the least punishment. However, people convicted of criminal sexual conduct, no matter the degree, are required to register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.
Therefore, if you are convicted of solicitation in Michigan, you will be required to register as a sex offender. Some people wonder is the sex offender registry for life. Some offenders have permanent criminal records, while others are allowed to have sex crimes expunged from their records after a while, depending on the offense’s severity and the case’s circumstances.
Are There Available Legal Defenses to a Solicitation Charge?
The law allows you to defend yourself if you face a solicitation charge. Several legal defenses exist to help you beat the charges against you. It would help if you contacted a sex crimes defense lawyer who can guide you in adopting the best criminal sexual conduct defense strategy.
The most effective defense in a solicitation case is lack of intent. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant affirmatively intended to engage in prostitution. If they cannot prove solicitation, then you will be acquitted.
Entrapment is another common defense in a solicitation case. Many times, police officers go undercover to entice people to commit a crime or catch them while they are at it. However, for entrapment to serve as a valid defense, you must show that the police officer pressured you to commit a crime – in this case, a solicitation.
Suppose you intended to solicit prostitution with a police officer pretending to be a prostitute. In that case, you will not be pardoned because you had the intent to commit a crime. It does not matter if you were unaware that the officer was undercover at the time.
Do You Face Charges for Soliciting a Prostitute in Michigan?
If you are charged with solicitation of prostitution, you need to get in touch with a top CSC defense attorney quickly. Although solicitation is a misdemeanor crime, you will be punished. Also, the implications of having a criminal record can be dire and long-lasting. The consequences are even more severe if it involves an underlying crime.
Choosing a lawyer from your city’s criminal defense attorneys can be overwhelming. While you need a great defense lawyer, you should pay particular attention to your potential attorney’s area of expertise. To win, you need a lawyer with experience handling sex crimes and a track record of success. Learn what to look for in a criminal defense lawyer here.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is a top criminal defense attorney in Michigan specializing in sex crimes. Her work as a former prosecutor gives her a unique advantage as a criminal sexual conduct attorney. She can help you develop aggressive sexual assault defense strategies and secure the best outcome in your case.
Attorney Nicole Blank Becker is available and willing to work with you to beat the charges. Reach out to her at (248) 515-6583 to book your Michigan criminal defense attorney free consultation.