Entrapment and Soliciting a Prostitute: Is There a Defense for My Case?

Entrapment is a recognized affirmative defense to Minnesota criminal charges. The essence of the defense is a claim that the police applied overbearing pressure to get you to commit a criminal act that you would otherwise not commit. It is an affirmative defense which means that you — as the defendant in the criminal case — have the initial burden to establish the claim of entrapment (through evidence and legal argument) in order to get a jury to consider the defense. Once this initial burden (called the "burden of production") is established, then the prosecutor must disprove beyond a reasonable doubt the existence of an entrapment defense.

Key Distinction in Minnesota Entrapment Law: Opportunity v. Entrapment

Minnesota's entrapment law has two parts. First, a defendant must prove that law enforcement induced his or her actions. To establish inducement, a defendant must show that the state did something more than merely present the opportunity to commit a crime. The second element is whether the defendant was predisposed to commit the crime. Evidence on this second element will include the defendant’s conduct in the act in question and can also include a defendant’s criminal history. In short, it is not enough to simply prove that the police officers came to the defendant with an opportunity to commit a crime.

Sentencing Entrapment

There’s another type of entrapment, a “legal” entrapment, that law enforcement frequently employs. It’s called sentencing entrapment. This form of entrapment occurs when law enforcement leads a defendant only predisposed to a certain criminal act to a more severe criminal act.

The most common way this plays out for prostitution cases is when law enforcement magically changes the age of the decoy sex worker. In a typical sting-case a bargain is struck between the defendant and the worker / decoy. Then the decoy states that she is less than 18 years old and convinces the defendant to come and meet her anyway. What started out as a misdemeanor charge suddenly became a felony (because the supposed prostitute is less than 18 years old). What makes this even more outrageous is that police frequently use pictures of random people in their sting advertisements (they have no idea how old the person in their advertisement is). The picture appears to be an adult (and probably is), but their statement that they are underage still results in felony charges and sometimes a requirement to register as a sex offender!

While sentencing entrapment is a legal technique frequently employed by police, it is not always favored by judges. A skilled defense attorney can demonstrate to a sentencing judge that the State’s entrapment was not fair and that the defendant should receive a lesser sentence than otherwise would be required under the law.

Learn more about Minnesota solicitation and prostitution law and how the Balmer Law Office can help in your case.

If you or a loved one has been charged with a criminal offense in the state of Minnesota, contact Minnetonka-based criminal defense attorney David Balmer for a free and confidential case evaluation.