Legislation authored by Senator Sandy Pappas (DFL – St. Paul) that increases penalties for those attempting to hire a minor for prostitution unanimously passed the Senate Floor today. In short, the bill effectively increases the penalties for those convicted of soliciting someone they reasonably believe to be a minor for prostitution and matches them to the penalties for actually paying a minor for prostitution.
“People attempting to hire children for prostitution have the same nefarious intentions and should therefore face the same penalties as those who actually commit these abuses,” Sen. Pappas said. “This bill will more adequately protect minors from prostitution by keeping would-be predators off the streets.”
Under current law, the penalties for hiring a minor for prostitution are quite high and get progressively stronger as the individual who is hired gets younger. However, if law enforcement participates in a sting operation and apprehends someone who reasonably believed they were hiring a minor for prostitution, upon conviction the perpetrator can only be sentenced to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine because no child was actually involved. Sen. Pappas’s legislation would impose the same penalties for attempting to solicit prostitution with a minor as engaging.
According to the bill language, if a person thinks the minor under the age of 13, they will face up to 20 years in prison, up to a $40,000 fine, or both. If the minor is under 16 but older than 13, the perpetrator would face up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine. And finally, if a perpetrator believes the minor is under 18 but older than 16, the offender will face up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
Sen. Pappas concluded by explaining the legislation will allow law enforcement to run more effective sting operations and put people who wish to engage in sexual conduct with a minor in prison for longer sentences. The ultimate goal is to take preventative measures to protect vulnerable children.
For more information, visit www.senate.mn.