Will I Serve Jail time if I Am Charged with Solicitation in Stearns County?

 In Law Articles

In Stearns County, including St. Cloud and Waite Park, the penalties for first-time solicitation of prostitution convictions depend on the circumstances of each individual case. Whether you’re charged with misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor or felony solicitation, the goal at Neuville Law Office remains the same: try to get the case dismissed, nothing on your permanent record, and no jail time.

For a misdemeanor solicitation charge, the maximum jail time punishable under Minnesota law is 90 days. Anyone who hires, offers to hire, or agrees to hire an individual 18 years of age or older to engage in sexual contact, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

Even if someone is convicted of misdemeanor solicitation, serving 90 days in jail is unlikely. Anyone convicted of misdemeanor solicitation must, at a minimum, be sentenced to pay a fine of at least $500. In Stearns County, city and county prosecutors often seek an increased fine or “penalty assessment,” as well.

Having handled thousands of cases as a criminal defense attorney in Stearns County, it is my experience that first-time convictions for misdemeanor solicitation rarely result in any jail time. Generally, individuals convicted of misdemeanor solicitation are required to serve 1-2 years on probation and are required to complete the Men Accountable for Sexual Exploitation Program, or “john school,” at the Central Minnesota Sexual Assault Center. The cost for this class is approximately $750.00.

In Stearns County, when someone is convicted of misdemeanor solicitation, the terms of probation can vary from case to case. People on probation in Stearns County are typically assigned a probation agent, who monitors the case throughout the period of probation. Alternatively, in my experience practicing in Stearns County, clients convicted of misdemeanor solicitation often receive probation to the court, or “administration” probation, where no agent is assigned and supervision is minimal, if any.

Gross misdemeanor and felony solicitation charges in Stearns County

Gross misdemeanor and felony charges are far more serious than a misdemeanor solicitation conviction and as a result, are more aggressively pursued and punished by the St. Cloud Police and Stearns County Attorney’s Office.

In Minnesota it is a gross misdemeanor to solicit prostitution in a public place, such as a hotel room. Whoever, while acting as a patron, intentionally does any of the following while in a public place is guilty of a gross misdemeanor:

  • engages in prostitution with an individual 18 years of age or older
  • hires, offers to hire, or agrees to hire an individual 18 years of age or older to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact.

Repeat solicitation offenders may also face enhanced gross misdemeanor charges.

Penalties for a gross misdemeanor conviction includes up to 365 days in jail and a fine up to $3000. Like a misdemeanor, anyone convicted of gross misdemeanor solicitation in Stearns County is unlikely to serve 365 days in jail. Repeat offenders may be ordered to pay a fine of at least $1,500 and serve 20 hours of community work service. The Stearns County District Court Judge may waive this requirement if community work service is not feasible under the circumstances of the case.

Felony charges are obviously the most serious and involve the solicitation of a minor child. Criminal penalties include up to 20 years in prison and a fine up to $40,000 for any solicitation conviction involving:

  • a minor under the age of 13 years
  • someone hiring, offering or agreeing to hire a minor under the age of 13 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact
  • someone hiring, offering or agreeing to hire an individual who the actor reasonably believes to be under the age of 13 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact.

Criminal penalties include up to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $20,000 for any conviction involving:

  • a minor under the age of 16 years but at least 13 years
  • someone hiring, offering or agreeing to hire an individual under the age of 16 years but at least 13 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact
  • someone hiring, offering or agreeing to hire an individual who the actor reasonably believes to be under the age of 16 years but at least 13 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact.

Criminal penalties include up to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000 for any conviction involving the following:

  • engaging in prostitution with an individual under the age of 18 years but at least 16 years
  • hiring, offering or agreeing to hire an individual under the age of 18 years but at least 16 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact
  • hiring, offering or agreeing to hire an individual who the actor reasonably believes to be under the age of 18 years but at least 16 years to engage in sexual penetration or sexual contact.

Unlike misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor solicitation charges in Stearns County, a felony conviction carries the real possibility of jail or even a prison sentence. If you’re facing a felony solicitation charge in Stearns County, you can expect the prosecutor will seek substantial punishment. This means you may have to fight your case at trial or try to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney to get a favorable plea bargain to a reduced charge. Without question, you need an aggressive attorney experienced in Stearns County to fight for your rights in court and get the best possible outcome.

Are there defenses for first-time solicitation charges in Stearns County?

Yes. Anyone on trial in Minnesota is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. As a defense attorney in Stearns County, I seek to challenge every factual element of the case. If we can convince even one juror at trial that the prosecutor failed to meet the burden of proof on even one factual element of your case, an acquittal may be possible.

Minnesota courts have recognized several defenses to first-time solicitation charges. In addition to the presumption of innocence, anyone unconstitutionally entrapped into committing solicitation has the right to request the jury be instructed on the entrapment defense at trial.

Additionally, the Minnesota Supreme Court identified the legal standard for police conduct while investigating solicitation of prostitution, specifically, whether undercover officer conduct is sufficiently outrageous to violate an individual’s right to due process. Whether undercover police violated someone’s due process rights is determined by the nature of the police officer’s conduct and whether the conduct was legally justified.

If you or someone you know has been charged with solicitation of prostitution, call Attorney Luke Neuville, owner of Neuville Law Office, for a free consultation.

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