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What Are The Laws For Prostitution, Pimping and Pandering In Michigan?

Often called "the world's oldest profession", prostitution in the sense that sex is exchanged for money, goods and services has been around since the beginning of civilization. However, make no mistake that prostitution is completely illegal in the State of Michigan, whether you are the customer or the service provider, and can be punished by fines, incarceration and potential registration on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry.

DEFINITIONS

  • "Prostitution" is not defined in the Michigan Penal Code, so what it does and does not include has been left up to the appellate courts to decide. The Michigan Court of Appeals determined that "prostitution" is "the performance of sexual intercourse for hire", meaning vaginal intercourse. Michigan Ex Rel Wayne Cty Prosecuting Attorney v Duck I, 203 Mich App 250, 260; 511 NW2d 907 (1994). In People v Warren, 449 Mich 341; 535 NW2d 173 (1995), the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that "prostitution" also includes "sexual simulation of a customer's penis by direct manual contact, in exchange for money" (therefore criminalizing massage parlors offering "happy endings" as "houses of prostitution" under the Michigan Penal Code"). However, the definition has not been formally expanded beyond this to include all other types of sex acts.
  • "Lewd" or "Lewdness" is also not defined in the Michigan Penal Code, but appellate courts have generally held that it covers a broader range of acts than "prostitution". Lewdness is defined as "those sexual acts of a nature similar intercourse: anal intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, and masturbation performed on another where done for hire." Michigan Ex Rel Wayne Cty Prosecuting Attorney v Duck I, 203 Mich App 250, 260; 511 NW2d 907 (1994). "Lap dancing itself does not constitute lewdness unless it is done for the purpose of masturbation." Id. If an act is not covered under the narrow "prostitution" definition, it is likely covered under the "lewdness" definition. (However, there must be money or other valuable consideration paid for the sex act).
  • "Assignation" is also not defined in the Michigan Penal Code. The Michigan Supreme Court defined it as "the making of an appointment for the purpose of prostitution." Michigan Ex Rel Wayne Cty Prosecuting Attorney v Levenburg, 406 Mich 455, 466; 280 NW2d 810 (1979). This definition also encompasses accosting and soliciting for purposes of prostitution. Id. Note that someone can be guilty of assignation without actually carrying out the sex act for money, as long as there is sufficient evidence that this was the intent of the parties.

DISORDERLY PERSON - COMMON PROSTITUTE (MCL 750.167)

  • A person is a disorderly person if he or she is a "common prostitute", which is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. This is a status offense crime, meaning that a person can be guilty of this offense by "being" a prostitute or loitering where prostitution occurs. It doesn't necessarily require that an act of prostitution occur.
  • This is an archaic law and House Bill No. 6170 was introduced in the Michigan Legislature on June 12th, 2018 to remove "common prostitute" from the disorderly person statute. This bill has not yet left the committee.

SOLICITING, ACCOSTING OR INVITING TO COMMIT PROSTITUTION OR IMMORAL ACT (MCL 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 follows:

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. MCL 750.451(1).
  • Second Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(2).
  • Third Or Subsequent Offense: Felony conviction punishable by up to 2 years in state prison or a fine up to $2,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(3).
  • IF THE VICTIM WAS A MINOR, the defendant will be required to register as a Tier II sex offender on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry.

ADMITTING TO PLACE FOR PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.449)

A person 16 years of age or older who receives or admits or offers to receive or admit a person into a place, structure, house, building, or vehicle for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, or who knowingly permits a person to remain in a place, structure, house, building, or vehicle for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, is guilty of a crime punishable as follows:

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. MCL 750.451(1).
  • Second Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(2).
  • Third Or Subsequent Offense: Felony conviction punishable by up to 2 years in state prison or a fine up to $2,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(3).

ENGAGING SERVICES FOR PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION, LEWDNESS OR ASSIGNATION (MCL 750.449a(1))

  • A person who engages or offers to engage the services of another person, not his or her spouse, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, by the payment in money or other forms of consideration, is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. A person convicted of this offense is subject to infectious disease testing as required by law.

ENGAGING SERVICES WITH PERSON LESS THAN 18 YEARS OLD FOR PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION, LEWDNESS OR ASSIGNATION (MCL 750.449a(2))

  • A person who engages or offers to engage the services of another person, who is less than 18 years of age and who is not his or her spouse, for the purpose of prostitution, lewdness, or assignation, by the payment in money or other forms of consideration, is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a felony conviction punishable by up to five years in state prison or a fine up to $10,000.00, or both.

AIDING, ASSISTING OR ABETTING ANOTHER PERSON TO SOLICIT, ACCOST, ENTICE, ADMIT OR ENGAGE SERVICES FOR PURPOSES OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.450)

A person 16 years of age or older who aids, assists, or abets another person to commit or offer to commit the act of soliciting, accosting, enticing, engaging or admitting for purpose of prostitution is guilty of a crime punishable as follows:

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. MCL 750.451(1).
  • Second Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(2).
  • Third Or Subsequent Offense: Felony conviction punishable by up to 2 years in state prison or a fine up to $2,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(3).

KEEPING, MAINTAINING OR OPERATING HOUSE OF ILL-FAME OR FOR PURPOSE OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.452)

  • A person who keeps, maintains, or operates, or aids and abets in keeping, maintaining, or operating, a house of ill-fame, bawdy house, or any house or place resorted to for the purpose of prostitution or lewdness is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a felony conviction punishable by up to five years in state prison or a fine up to $5,000.00, or both.

LEASING HOUSES FOR PURPOSES OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.454)

  • Any person who shall let any dwelling house, knowing that the lessee intends to use it as a house of ill-fame or place of resort for the purpose of prostitution and lewdness, or for the purpose of gambling for money or other property, or who shall knowingly permit such lessee to use the same for such purpose, or who shall receive any rent for any dwelling, house, room, or apartment which is used as a house of ill-fame or place of resort for prostitutes, or for the purpose of prostitution and lewdness, or for the purpose of gambling for money or other property, having reasonable cause to believe such house, room, or apartment is used for any such purpose, is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 6 months in jail or a fine up to $750.00.

"PANDERING" - (MCL 750.455)

  • A person is guilty of pandering if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 20.34):
  1. First, that the person forced, persuaded, encouraged or tricked a victim to become a prostitute OR that the person took, agreed to take, gave or agreed to give money or anything of value for making or attempting to make a victim became a prostitute.
  2. Second, the person did this knowingly and intentionally.
  • The penalty for pandering is a felony conviction punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years AND the convict is required to register as a Tier II sex offender on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry.

PLACING SPOUSE IN HOUSE OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.456)

  • Any person who by force, fraud, intimidation, or threat places or leaves, or procures any other person to place or leave, his or her spouse in a house of prostitution or to lead a life of prostitution, is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a felony conviction punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years.

"PIMPING" - ACCEPTING, RECEIVING, LEVYING, OR APPROPRIATING FROM EARNINGS OF PERSON ENGAGED IN PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.457)

  • A person is guilty of pimping if the prosecutor can prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt (Model Criminal Jury Instruction 20.35):
  1. First, that the person received or took money or something of value from a prostitute.
  2. Second, that the person knew that the woman was a prostitute when the person received or took money or something of value.
  3. Third, that the person knew when he or she received or took money or something of value, that it had been earned by prostitution.
  4. Fourth, that the person did not give the prostitute anything of value in exchange.
  • The penalty for pimping is a felony conviction punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years. MCL 750.457(1).
  • The acceptance, receipt, levy, or appropriation of money or anything of value is presumptive evidence of lack of consideration (e.g. no exchange of goods and services). MCL 750.457(2).

DETAINING PERSON IN HOUSE OF PROSTITUTION FOR DEBT (MCL 750.458)

  • Any person who attempts to detain any person in a disorderly house or house of prostitution because of any debt or debts the person has contracted, or is said to have contracted while living in that house, is guilty of a crime.
  • The penalty is a felony conviction punishable by imprisonment between 2 and 20 years.

TRANSPORTING PERSON FOR PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.459(1))

  • A person shall not knowingly transport or cause to be transported, or aid or assist in obtaining transportation for, by any means of conveyance, into, through, or across this state, any person for the purpose of prostitution or with the intent and purpose to induce, entice, or compel that person to become a prostitute.
  • A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 20 years or a fine up to $20,000.00, or both.
  • A person who violates this law may be prosecuted, indicted, tried, and convicted in any county or city in or through which he or she shall transport or attempt to transport any person in violation of this law. MCL 750.459(4).

SALE OF TRAVEL SERVICES FOR PURPOSES OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.459(2))

  • A person shall not knowingly sell or offer to sell travel services that include or facilitate travel for the purpose of engaging in what would be a violation of the Michigan Penal Code concerning prostitution, if the violation occurred in this state.
  • A person who violates this law is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 5 years or a fine up to $10,000.00, or both (if the violation involved conduct against a minor, a person who violates this law is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment up to 10 years or a fine up to $15,000.00, or both). MCL 750.459(3).
  • A person who violates this law may be prosecuted, indicted, tried, and convicted in any county or city in or through which he or she shall transport or attempt to transport any person in violation of this law. MCL 750.459(4).
  • "Travel services" means transportation by air, sea, or ground, hotel or other lodging accommodations, package tours, or the provision of vouchers or coupons to be redeemed for future travel, or accommodations for a fee, commission, or other valuable consideration. MCL 750.459(5).

FEMALE 16 YEARS OF AGE OR LESS IN HOUSE OF PROSTITUTION (MCL 750.462)

A person who, for a purpose other than prostitution, takes or conveys to, or employs, receives, detains, or allows a person 16 years of age or less to remain in, a house of prostitution, house of ill-fame, bawdy-house, house of assignation, or any house or place for the resort of prostitutes or other disorderly persons is guilty of a crime punishable as follows:

  • First Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 93 days in jail or a fine up to $500.00, or both. MCL 750.451(1).
  • Second Offense: Misdemeanor conviction punishable by up to 1 year in jail or a fine up to $1,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(2).
  • Third Or Subsequent Offense: Felony conviction punishable by up to 2 years in state prison or a fine up to $2,000.00, or both. MCL 750.451(3).

DEFENSES TO PROSTITUTION-RELATED OFFENSES

  • LACK OF KNOWLEDGE - If a person is trying to pick up another person at the bar and does not realize that he or she is trying to have sex with someone that is actually a prostitute, then that person is not guilty of soliciting unless money is actually offered for sex. Likewise, a person cannot be guilty of "pimping" when they accept earnings from another person but does not know it is the result of prostitution. Whether or not someone knows or had reason to know of a fact depends on the totality of the circumstances.
  • LACK OF CONSIDERATION - Prostitution, lewdness or assignation requires that money, services, favors or other valuable consideration be offered in exchange for sexual acts. If nothing of value was offered for sexual contact, then there may not be prostitution.
  • LACK OF SEXUAL CONTACT - Actual sexual contact is required to convict for prostitution. However, take note that actual sexual contact is NOT required to convict for solicitation, pandering and pimping as long as the intent can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

NON-DEFENSES TO PROSTITUTION RELATED OFFENSES

  • LACK OF JURISDICTION IS DIFFICULT DEFENSE - It is not a defense to a prosecution for any prostitution-related offense that any part of that violation was committed outside of Michigan. A person who violates these laws may be tried and punished in any county in which the prostitution was intended to be practiced, or in which the offense was consummated, or in which any overt act in furtherance of the offense was committed. MCL 750.462.
  • NO SPOUSAL PRIVILEGE - The spousal privilege cannot be invoked to prevent a prostitute from testifying for or against the accused as to any transaction or as to any conversation with the accused or by the accused with another person in the individual's presence regardless of whether the individual married the accused before or after the violation or whether the individual is called as a witness during the existence of the marriage or after its dissolution. MCL 750.461.
  • NO ENTRAPMENT DEFENSE - Law enforcement officers are immune from prosecution for soliciting, enticing, accosting, or engaging in prostitution, or admitting a person to a house of prostitution, or aiding, assisting or abetting any other person to do these acts provided these all occur in the performance of the officer's duties. MCL 750.451a. This essentially gives the police the legal authority to entice and entrap service providers and customers of prostitution for arrest. However, police officers lose this immunity if they engage in sexual penetration while in the scope of their duties. MCL 750.451b.

CONCLUSION

Prostitution may appear to be a purely consensual transaction that the state has no business interfering with, but make no mistake that the enforcement of these laws is taken very seriously. Prominent politicians find their careers being destroyed when their enemies uncover their procurements of prostitution. The media's focus on human trafficking and sex tourism victimizing minors has also put the sex worker industry under scrutiny. Some prostitution convictions may even make it impossible to seek employment in a public school system if it is a "listed offense" subject to Tier II sex offender registry. MCL 380.1230. Legal consequences aside, a conviction can cause damage to your personal relationships and your reputation that is beyond repair. If accused of these acts, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner fighting hard to protect your rights.

If you or a loved one is accused of a prostitution-related criminal offense, do not hesitate to contact the skilled lawyers at Kershaw, Vititoe & Jedinak PLC to start your aggressive criminal defense today.

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