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Despite increasingly liberal attitudes about people’s sexual behavior, prostitution remains a serious crime in Michigan. Anyone who faces charges related to buying or selling sexual services risks significant penalties.

If you face prostitution charges, do not try to handle the matter without a criminal defense attorney. A Marquette prostitution lawyer could provide an aggressive defense on your behalf.

Prostitution as a Misdemeanor Crime

In Michigan, prostitution means selling or offering to sell any sexual act. Solicitation means buying or offering to buy a sex act. A sex act does not need to take place, and money need not change hands, for someone to face a prostitution or solicitation charge.

Michigan Penal Code § 750.448 makes it a crime for anyone 16 or older to solicit sex for hire from a public place, vehicle, or building. There is no need for a verbal agreement; a mere gesture is sufficient to warrant a prostitution charge. Similarly, anyone over 16 who offers to commit prostitution has committed a crime.

A first offense as either a buyer or seller of sexual services is a misdemeanor if both parties are over 16 years of age. The maximum penalty upon conviction is up to 93 days in jail and a $500 fine. Someone with a prior conviction for a prostitution-related offense could face up to one year in jail and a $1,000 fine. Two or more prior convictions could lead to felony charges punishable by two years in prison and a $2,000 fine.

Prosecutors and Judges Have Significant Discretion

Michigan law is worded so that either buyers or sellers could be charged with prostitution. Buyers are often charged with the additional crime of soliciting prostitution. Even when both buyer and seller are charged only with prostitution, prosecutors and judges tend to treat buyers more harshly.

Having an experienced prostitution attorney in Marquette is especially important because prosecutors and judges have significant leeway in the charges they bring and the punishment they impose. A prosecutor could bring a prostitution charge or allow an accused to plead to a lesser offense that does not have the stigma of a sex crime.

Some Michigan cities have minimum sentences for some prostitution crimes, but many do not. Judges could impose sentences that are harsher than the law sets forth, depending on the circumstances. An attorney could present all the evidence supporting leniency in a specific case. In an appropriate situation, a legal defender could arrange a diversion program to address underlying addiction, mental health, or social issues for someone facing prostitution charges.

Defenses to Prostitution Crimes

The circumstances of an arrest will inform the type of defense a Marquette prostitution attorney might raise. As with any criminal charge, the legal professional will examine whether law enforcement abridged the defendant’s rights in investigating the alleged crime or making an arrest. If so, a motion to suppress the evidence resulting from the improper behavior could result in a prosecutor dropping or reducing a charge.

A prostitution conviction requires a prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to perform a sex act in exchange for money or something else of value, like drugs. If a defender could convince a prosecutor that the evidence on that point is weak, the prosecutor might drop the charge. Similarly, the sex act must be performed in exchange for a payment, not as a “gift.” If there is no agreement on a fee, the act or offer was not prostitution.

Fight Your Charges with an Aggressive Marquette Prostitution Attorney

A prostitution conviction carries significant criminal penalties and severe social consequences. It would be a big mistake to take these charges lightly.

A Marquette prostitution lawyer combines knowledge, skill, and strategy to achieve the best results the circumstances allow. Call Berger Law immediately to get a forceful advocate on your side.