Michigan Prostitution Laws
When you are facing an accusation of a sexual act in Michigan, it is important to know exactly what the law says about the alleged crime. Prostitution is one of these crimes, and the state takes these cases very seriously. They will pursue a conviction if they believe that they have ample evidence that the accused attempted to engage in prostitution or solicitation.
Michigan Prostitution Laws
Under Michigan Law, both the customer and the prostitute can receive penalties for engaging in prostitution and solicitation. It does not matter what the circumstances are surrounding the event, engaging with someone else in sexual acts for money is illegal in Michigan in just about all circumstances.
In most cases, a conviction of a prostitution or solicitation charge will be seen as a misdemeanor offense, but, in some cases, prostitution charges can be increased to a felony crime. Regardless of how serious the charge against you is, a conviction for prostitution and solicitation is not something you want on your record. If you have been charged with anything related to prostitution, you need to contact Attorney Nicole Blank Becker immediately for a free consultation.
What Does the Michigan Penal Code Consider to be Prostitution?
According to Michigan Penal Code 750.448, “a person 16 years of age or older who accosts, solicits, or invites another person in a public place or in or from a building or vehicle, by word, gesture, or any other means, to commit prostitution or to do any other lewd or immoral act, is guilty of a crime punishable as provided in section 451.” That means that any sex acts that result in money changing hands can be subject to fines, jail time, and other penalties.
If the person is under the age of 16, the legal age of consent in Michigan, that falls under solicitation of a minor, which carries even stiffer sentences. Still, even when both the prostitute and customer are over the age of consent, a prostitution charge is a big deal.
There are almost no exceptions to this rule. One of the only exceptions that exists is that police officers can engage in sex acts related to prostitution as part of an attempt to bring charges of prostitution and solicitation on to others. This is considered entrapment, and is a viable defense. Otherwise, if you are convicted of attempting to commit prostitution, you will face serious legal consequences.
Crimes Stemming from Prostitution Charges
If you have never engaged in sexual services for money, would you have any reason to worry? In some situations, this answer may be yes. Michigan Law also allows for penalties for those who provide the means for someone to engage in a sexual act related to prostitution.
For example, if you are a landlord and you knowingly rented an apartment to sex workers who intended to use their home as a house of prostitution, you could face legal penalties for their actions. Even though all you did was collect rent from them, if a prosecutor can established that you knowingly permitted them to run a prostitution house, you could face charges for misdemeanor sex crimes under the Michigan Penal Code.
Aiding someone in finding a prostitute is also a serious crime, which means any involvement at all in someone else’s decision to commit prostitution can land you in legal jeopardy. Let’s say you chose to knowingly transport a friend to a house of prostitution and left immediately after dropping them off. Even if you never engaged with any male or female prostitutes, you could face criminal charges for this action.
What are the Maximum Penalties for Engaging in Prostitution and Solicitation?
If you are facing a first offense for prostitution, that is going to fall under misdemeanor offenses, which can carry a fine of $500 and a maximum jail sentence of 93 days. A second offense also falls into this category, but the maximum fine increases to $1,000 and you can be up to one year in jail.
For a third or subsequent offense, the penalties become far more severe. A third offense carries a maximum prison term of two years, with a fine of up to $2,000 also on the table.
Under Michigan Law, no person can be locked up in jail for longer than one year, as that is the maximum sentence allowed for a misdemeanor. That means a third or subsequent offense will send the person convicted to a state prison for the length of their sentence. Not only that, but a third offense is considered a felony conviction. Learn more about what is the charge for soliciting a prostitute here.
What About Forcing Another to Commit Prostitution?
The state of Michigan takes a very stern view against those who force another to engage in sexual contact for money against their will. If you are convicted of holding sex workers in a house of prostitution against their will, you could face felony charges that carry a maximum prison time of 20 years.
If you knowingly transport someone for the purposes of making them engage in sexual acts, the same sentence holds. If you knowingly transport someone across state lines in order to make them provide sexual services, you could face federal charges for your actions.
In some cases, convicted offenders have been found guilty of forcing their spouse to engage in sexual conduct as a prostitute. This carries the same maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and is considered a felony conviction. In every situation, seeing the right sex crimes defense lawyer for a free consultation is an absolute must.
What Defenses Exist when Facing a Charge for Prostitution and Solicitation?
As established earlier, there are not many exceptions to the Michigan Penal Code’s definition of prostitution and solicitation. That does not mean that there are not ways for a good criminal defense lawyer to help you defend yourself against a prostitution charge.
If you have been accused of attempting to commit prostitution, you need to know that your case is not hopeless and you are entitled to a strong, well-reasoned defense in court.
The following are a few examples of viable defenses:
You Had No Knowledge that Prostitution was Occurring
One of the basic rules of Michigan Law regarding prostitution is that the customer, enabler, and/or prostitute must be aware that they are engaging in prostitution. Whether it is a misdemeanor charge or a felony conviction, any conviction in a court of law hinges on the defendant’s knowledge of what happened qualified as prostitution.
Let’s revisit the landlord example from earlier who decides to rent an apartment to sex workers. Under the law, if he knew that he was renting to someone who intended to use their home as a house of prostitution, he would be guilty of aiding and abetting a prostitute and face penalties under the law. However, suppose that he runs a background check and it comes back clean, as neither of them have their history as a sex worker come up in his search. Then he may not have any reason to believe that prostitution will take place.
Now let’s say that four months in, a neighbor hears these tenants engaging in an immoral act and brings charges against them and the landlord. In that scenario, the sex workers could face serious penalties, but the landlord could reasonably show that he had no reason to suspect that they were engaging in prostitution and avoid legal consequences.
A similar defense can work if you engage with a male or female prostitute without it being made clear that the engagement is for money. If you engage in sexual contact or other action with another consenting adult, that is not a crime unless payment is solicited. If you did not realize the action occurred with a prostitute, a good defense lawyer can make that case in court.
No Sexual Conduct Took Place Between You and Someone Else
Not every action between two adults in a private setting qualifies as sexual conduct. There are four different degrees of criminal sexual conduct under Michigan law, and if you can create reasonable doubt that the actions involved any sexual acts, you can use that as your defense.
This might seem to be difficult to establish, but remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Your prostitution lawyer does not need to prove you are innocent; the prosecution must prove you are guilty. If they cannot do so, the jury must decide in your favor.
You were Entrapped into Prostitution by Police Officers
Police officers are not granted a free license to simply try to trap anyone who might fall into their operation. If you believe that you have been trapped by police as part of a sting operation, you might be able to use that to your defense.
A good CSC defense attorney can state that you would not have engaged in an act of prostitution in a normal situation, especially if you have no prior record of committing acts of prostitution. If this would be your second offense or a subsequent offense, however, that strategy might be harder to pull off, but it is not impossible if a lengthy amount of time has passed between your first offense and an alleged second offense. Learn more about how to beat a solicitation charge here.
Getting the Right Criminal Defense Attorney on Your Side
By the time that you go to trial to deal with possible misdemeanor offenses or a felony charge, your case has likely already been won or lost without you even knowing it. That is because few cases that go to trial are so cut-and-dried that one side is obviously going to win. In those situations, the defendant will almost always take a plea bargain rather than risk going to trial and face worse punishment as a person convicted of prostitution.
In the courtroom, the overwhelming majority of cases are decided by who has the stronger and more experienced criminal sexual conduct attorney. That is why you need to schedule a free consultation with Attorney Nicole Blank Becker and get her up to speed on your situation.
Nicole has spent a majority of her 20+ year career focused on sex crimes.
Nicole knows the ins and outs of the law better than her counterparts because she has argued as both a prosecutor and a defense attorney. When there is a hole in the prosecution’s argument, Nicole knows exactly how to find and exploit it in order to protect the rights of her clients.
If you are facing a charge for prostitution and solicitation, you do not want to go up against the legal system on your own or with a substandard lawyer. You need to get the best lawyer on your side by talking to Nicole Blank Becker as soon as possible. You can reach her at (248) 515-6583 or via e-mail or the contact form available on our website. She is always available to take your information and get to work to protect your freedom.