Solicitation

What is Solicitation?

Criminal solicitation is the act of a person trying to get someone to have sex with them. Often this can be related to prostitution or sex trafficking *links to pages need to be added*, and can involve adults and/or children.

In both state and federal court, the act of trying to get a minor to have sex with an adult is a crime. And in both jurisdictions, it doesn’t matter if the person the defendant thought was a minor was really an undercover cop or some other adult. The crime is the intention to have sex with minors, and the efforts to fulfill that desire.

What is the Definition of Solicitation?

The law defines the word “solicit” as: commanding, enticing, entreating, or attempting to persuade a specific person, by telephone, letter, in person, or by computerized or other electronic means.

Today, most cases arise from posting or communicating on the internet through social media applications or website classifieds. Many defendants get charged with solicitation after making inquiries online about meeting up for sex.

What is the definition of “child”?

Under this Minnesota Statute, the age of a child is 15 years of age or younger.

In Minnesota, there are two main statutes prohibiting solicitation

Under this Minnesota Statute, the age of a child is 15 years of age or younger.

What is Solicitation and Promotion of Prostitution?

This applies to anyone who would be considered a pimp or aiding someone in that role. Not the customers of the sex, and not the sex workers themselves, but the person or people that are running or associated with the business of selling sex for profit. This crime is split into two degrees. Both are felonies that carry penalties that could include prison time.

First Degree: Whoever does the following intentionally:
  1. Solicits an individual under the age of 18 to practice prostitution;
  2. Promotes the prostitution of an individual under 18 years;
  3. Receives profit, knowing or having reason to know that it came from prostitution or the promotion of prostitution of someone under 18;
  4. Engages in sex trafficking of an individual under the age of 18
Second Degree: Whoever intentionally does the following:
  1. Solicits or induces any individual to practice prostitution,
  2. Promotes the prostitution of anyone
  3. Receives profit, knowing or having reason to know that it came from prostitution or the promotion of prostitution of someone.

There are a couple exceptions to this law that protect the children and adult parents who may have benefitted from, or depend on, the profits of Solicitation and/or prostitution, as long as the children were minors at the time and/or the adult parents didn’t know that the money came from the criminal activities.

It also protects average business owners from being prosecuted under this statute for the sale of goods or services to a prostitute in the ordinary course of a lawful business.

Solicitation of Children to Engage in Sexual Conduct/Communication of Sexually Explicit Materials to Children:

This law criminalizes the act of sending pictures or videos of a sexual nature to minors age 15 and younger, as well as engaging in text or chat with them describing sex acts or activities, or asking to engage in sexual activities.

This law is designed to prosecute people sending dick pics to middle schoolers, for example, or chatting about sexual fantasies on social media or private messaging apps, or setting up dates to meet tweens to have sex.

In order for the State to prove Electronic Solicitation of a Child, the State must prove:
  1. The defendant was at least age 18;
  2. The child allegedly solicited was age 15 or younger OR the defendant reasonably believed the person allegedly solicited to be age 15 or younger;
  3. The defendant used some form of electronic communication (usually a computer, cell phone connected to the internet); to
  4. Solicit the alleged child to engage in sexual conduct OR communicate with the alleged child describing sexual conduct OR sent pictures/videos of a sexual nature to the alleged child;
  5. The defendant acted with the intent to arouse the sexual desire of the alleged child;
  6. The act took place on or about a specific date in the county in which it was charged.

Once again, Mistake of age is NOT a defense, and the fact that an alleged child might turn out to have been an undercover officer is also not a defense.

It’s not about the personal details of the alleged child on the other end, the statute criminalizes the act of trying to get sexy with a child of 15 or younger.

Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against charges of Solicitation. If you or someone you love has been accused of Solicitation.

What is Solicitation of a minor?

A minor is any person 18 years of age or younger.

The law defines the word “solicit” as: commanding, enticing, entreating, or attempting to persuade a specific person, by telephone, letter, in person, or by computerized or other electronic means.

Solicitation of a minor is a federal crime.

There are three main statutes in federal law that criminalize solicitation, and like any federal offense, the federal statutes require an element of affecting “interstate commerce.” Usually this means using the internet, since the internet by nature crosses state lines. Here are the ways to get in trouble under federal law for solicitation of a minor:

Coercion and enticement:

It’s a federal crime for anyone who:

  1. knowingly persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual to travel in interstate or foreign commerce, to engage in prostitution *please link to def* or any sexual activity that could be charged as a criminal offense, or attempts to do so or
  2. persuades, induces, entices, or coerces any individual under age 18 to engage in prostitution or criminal sexual conduct *link to defs above*, or attempts to do using the mail or any facility or means of interstate commerce.
Transportation of Minors: it’s a federal crime for anyone to:
  1. Knowingly transport a person under age 18 through interstate commerce *please link to def* for the purpose of engaging in prostitution or any sexual activity for which a person could be charged with a criminal offense;
  2. Travel in interstate commerce, or travel into the US from foreign destinations for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct *link to def* with another person;
  3. Travel in foreign commerce or reside temporarily in a foreign country and engage in illicit sexual conduct;
  4. For the purpose of commercial advantage or private financial gain, arranges, induces, procures, or facilitates the travel of a person in interstate or foreign commerce for the purpose of engaging in illicit sexual conduct;
  5. Attempt or conspire to do any of the above criminal activity.

What is the definition of “illicit sexual conduct” under this statute? It means any sexual act with a person under age 18, any commercial sex act with a person under age 18, or production of child pornography. The only good news under this statute is that it does allow for a mistake of age defense.

Use of interstate facilities to transmit information about a minor:

It’s a federal crime for anyone to use the mail or any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce to initiate the transmission of the name, address, contact or other identifying information of an individual under age 16 with the intent to entice, encourage, offer, or solicit any person to engage in any sexual activity for which a person could be charged with a criminal offense, or attempts to do so.

  • Under this statute, a minor is defined as anyone under the age of 16.
  • “Any facility or means of interstate or foreign commerce” in most cases means the internet or mobile networks accessed through phones, computers or tablets.
  • This law is designed to prevent children from being sexually exploited over, through, or because of the internet.
Important things to know about federal solicitation charges:
  • This law extends to anyone who actively or passively participates in the transit, coercion, or sexual activity of minors, and often federal indictments will charge several defendants in a conspiracy to commit sex acts or solicitation.
  • The penalties in federal court for solicitation are much harsher than state court. Some carry mandatory minimum sentences, or up to a life sentence, especially if there are any prior convictions for sex offenses. Sentences can also be increased if there are aggravating factors, such as the use of coercion, threats, or very young minors.
  • The state’s age of consent does not matter. The federal definition of a minor is anyone under the age of 18 at the time of the offense, and in some circumstances the definition drops to under the age of 16. The State’s age of consent only drives the prosecution of state crimes.
  • Illicit sex activity is not limited to physical sex acts. Under the federal definition, the activity can include child pornography—the depiction of minors in a sexual manner on video or in photos—OR transmitting information about a minor in a way that is meant to provide sexual arousal.
  • Penalties for federal sex crimes can also include register as a state predatory offender, and usually a mandate to be listed on the national sex registry. This registry compiles information on sex offenders across the country and is kept for a length determined by the conviction, possibly up to life.
  • There are defenses! Unless a provision specifically prohibits it, a genuine, good faith mistake of age can be raised as a defense. Additional defenses include, but are not limited to:
    • Mental instability or defect; the defendant was temporarily or permanently incompetent or otherwise mentally unstable to make meaningful decisions about their decision to participate in the crime;
    • False Accusations; this is the most common defense raised. The defendant did not commit the crime for any reason: pressure from an ex-spouse, local law enforcement, or other person to make an accusation that hurts the defendant; and/OR someone else was using the defendant’s online or electronic credentials

Getting accused of or charged with federal solicitation is not something you should go through alone. There are defenses. You should consult with an experienced federal sex crimes criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against charges of Solicitation. If you or someone you love has been accused of Solicitation, Catherine can help. Call for a free consultation.

Do I need a lawyer if I’m charged with a sex crime?

YES! Accusations of criminal sexual conduct can have immediate consequences, such as the separation of family members or the loss of employment. Convictions for the same can have far reaching collateral consequences for the rest of a person’s life, including loss of housing or licensures, social isolation, and financial hardship. To adequately defend these charges, a defendant needs a lawyer with experience.

When Catherine represents people charged with sex crimes, she talks to them about what happened from their perspective and puts together a defense strategy that often involves talking to witnesses, gathering social media evidence, and making special motions in court.

She understands that accusations of rape, solicitation, or any other sex crime can ruin someone’s life and she’s committed to helping people fight the charges. She has won serious criminal sexual conduct trials, gotten charges dismissed, and kept people out of prison.

She knows how to work a case, and will help resolve the matter in the best interests of the client. Not every case ends up in trial, and Catherine is just as committed to negotiating a resolution that works for the client as she is to winning in front of a jury. Every situation is different and requires a unique approach. She will customize a defense that works for every client.

Catherine is an experienced criminal defense lawyer that defends against all criminal sexual conduct, solicitation, child pornography, and other sex crimes in state and federal court. If you or someone you love has been accused of a sex crime, Catherine can help. Call for a free consultation.