The Michigan Court of Appeals has recently released for publication a case that could be particularly harsh for residents of Berrien County and other border counties in Michigan. Under the new case, anyone caught enticing a woman to engage in prostitution across state lines could face up to 20 years in prison.
The court evaluated a case where a man and woman approached an undercover police officer. The couple offered to buy the officer new clothes, shoes, a residence, and cosmetic surgery if she would travel to Florida with one of the defendants and work as a prostitute. They also suggested she could make more money in Florida than in Michigan.
The court took a careful look at a previous Michigan Supreme Court case evaluating the state’s pandering statute. That case stood for the idea that Michigan’s pandering statute, which created a 20 year felony, provided for a more serious penalty to people who brought new women into the criminal field of prostitution, than to those who were already engaged in the profession. At the trial court level, the defendants had used this distinction to get their cases dismissed, since the prosecution had not demonstrated that the undercover police officer was not already engaged in prostitution.
But the facts in this case fell under a different subsection of Michigan’s pandering statute, which authorizes a heightened sentence against who shall inveigle, entice, persuade, encourage or procure any female person to come into this state or to leave this state for the purpose of prostitution.
The court found that the interstate nature of this case and this section of the statute created a more severe harm than merely sending additional clients to the undercover officer. The defendants were trying to further engross the officer by engaging her in an interstate practice, rather than just engaging in a single act of prostitution.
This case is particularly important in border counties like Berrien. In these counties, simply by asking a woman to cross a road a defendant could be facing 20 years in prison instead of 90 days in jail. If you or someone you know is faced with this very serious felony charge, call Attorney Peter J. Johnson at 269-982-1100 for a consultation.
*Please note: Every case is different, and there may be some aspect of your particular case which may result in an outcome other than is described above. This post is not intended as legal advice and may not apply to your particular case. It is always best to contact our office for a consultation if you have been or believe you may be charged with a crime.