Here’s an article by Todd Spodek, founding partner at the NYC spodek law group. Prostitution is the buying and selling of sex and is illegal in most states in the USA. However, the law looks at prostitution in various situations each with its severity levels of punishment. For example, in the state of Minnesota, forcing others into prostitution is regarded as sex trafficking.
The Minnesota statutes of dealing with sex crimes fall under section 609.321-609.324. There exist different degrees of sex trafficking.
Sex trafficking in the 1st degree applies when a person under 18 years is induced or involved in soliciting a prostitute. This includes sexual penetration of the vaginal, oral, anal cavities, or other sexual contacts.
Other definitions involve:
• Promoting prostitution through procuring or soliciting customers for a prostitute, ownership, or management of a premise in the business of prostitution. It also covers the admission of customers into a place for prostitution and transporting an individual for purposes of prostituting them.
• Receiving profit with the knowledge that the proceeds are from the prostitution of a person less than 18 years old
• Sex trafficking, which includes providing enticement, harboring, or obtaining of a person to engage in sex while they have not attained 18 years.
Sex trafficking in the 2nd degree involves the following crimes:
• Coaxing or getting someone to practice prostitution
• Advocating for the prostitution of another
• Profiting knowingly from the prostitution of another
• Sex trafficking of people
Offenders of sex trafficking in the second degree face a punishment of a fine of up to 15 years. The penalties for hiring a minor for the sake of prostitution will depend on the child’s age with a kid under 13 attracting a 20-year jail term and a fine of up to $40,000. On the other hand, a child of 16 or 17 years will attract a maximum of five years imprisonment and a $3,000 fine.
The location of the prostitution act will also determine the severity of punishment as will a history of offenses. Prostitution of adults in public place attracts a greater penalty of at least $1,500 compared with private places. The option of community service is also considered when a fine or imprisonment is deemed too harsh for a low-income earner.
Minnesota is just one of the jurisdictions but one that can act as a guide as to how various States view prostitution.
In general, prostitution is not considered a serious crime and the lenient sentences reflect this. A buyer or seller of sex can expect a minor sentence or fine. In fact, most prison cases will only apply to repeat offenders.
People who procure sex and the prostitute themselves are not the main targets of law enforcement agencies. They are pawns, and the law views their crimes as misdemeanors.
Harsher punishments are reserved for those who run prostitution rings. These pimps hide their illegal activities and are legitimate businesses such as massage parlors whereas the small time consumers of prostitution face probation, physical labor, and community service. This is often coupled with compulsory AIDS testing; pimps face far more serious sentences.
Since pimps take a large percentage of the prostitutes’ earnings for “protection.” In effect, they own the prostitutes. This is equivalent to keeping an individual in bondage. Most of them are also connected to street crime, especially the drug trade. Their businesses, thus tend to encourage and perpetuate prostitution and other street crimes.
Pimps are targeted with harsher sentences because they recruit, advertise, transport, and earn directly from prostitution. Sentences also get harsh when minors are involved. The use of violence and intimidation to compel one into prostitution will also attract harsher sentences.
Ignorance is a factor that is considered by the judges in determining the guilt of an offender. If you benefit from the proceeds of prostitution without being aware of the source of the money, the law does not hold you liable. For example, as a landlord, if your tenant engages in prostitution and uses the money to pay rent, you are not considered liable if you do not know the source of that cash.