The offense of offer to engage the services of another for any act of prostitution, or solicitation of a prostitute, carries a mandatory 45 days in jail pursuant to City of Detroit Ordinances. The act of offer to engage, or OTE as it is commonly known, occurs when there is the offer of money for a sexual act. The ‘offer’ may occur by a direct request of a sexual act for a specified payment, by asking the question ‘how much” for a specified act or by kidding around with the undercover officer impersonating a prostitute.
That’s right, the City of Detroit has an ongoing sting operation whereby undercover female police officers, impersonating prostitutes, are strategically situated in areas of known prostitution. The female police officers, or decoys, are wired for audio which allows out of view law enforcement officers to hear the conversation between the decoy and the unsuspecting party. The unsuspecting party is typically operating a motor vehicle in the area and feels that it is safe to stop and talk to the decoy. Once there is any mention, or even a suggestion, of money for sex, a police vehicle will close in, place the unsuspecting party under arrest for OTE and seize any motor vehicle involved during the commission of the offense (See Vehicle Seizure Unit, Wayne County Prosecutor). The underlying criminal case for OTE will be handled as a separate matter in the 36th District Court.
The Detroit Ordinance: Offer to Engage or Solicit for Any Act of Prostitution
The use of police resources and decoys to further the prostitution sting operation in the City of Detroit is fraught with criticism; especially by criminal defense attorneys. Despite criticism, the clandestine operation has been in existence for several years. In addition, the City of Detroit nets substantial income as a result of the associated vehicles forfeited and subsequent settlements with the parties charged with OTE.
The Offer to Engage Detroit Ordinance, Section 38-9-5, states as follows:
- It shall be unlawful for any person to engage, or offer to engage, the services of another person for any act of prostitution.
- It shall be unlawful for any person to aid, assist or abet another to commit any act prohibited by subsection (a) of this section including, but not limited to, aiding, assisting or abetting by receiving or admitting or offering to receive or admit any person into any public place, or any other place, for any purpose prohibited by subsection (a) of this section, or to knowingly permit any person to remain in any such place for any such purpose.
- Upon conviction for violation of this section, the court shall:Sentence the defendant to a term of imprisonment for a minimum term of forty-five (45) days and a maximum term of ninety (90) days; and impose a fine of five hundred dollars ($500.00).
Detroit Prostitution Sting Operation Lures the Curious, Unsuspecting Suburban Male
Our typical OTE offender is usually from the suburbs, does not have any serious criminal record and has never been convicted of OTE or solicitation of a prostitute. In my opinion, these individuals take a chance to talk to someone that they believe is a prostitute because the sting operation is strategically set up for this purpose. Again, this is my view based upon experience and I believe that the temptation to stop and chat with the police decoy is greater than it would be for an actual prostitute based upon the following:
- The police decoy is made to be more attractive.
- The police decoy can be more aggressive and positioned where vehicles are likely to stop since the police decoy has no risk of being arrested.
On October 6, 2015, The Detroit News, published an article, Sex, drug sting nab more from suburbs than city. The following excerpt summarizes the main theme of the article claiming that suburban offenders are more likely to be involved in the Detroit offer to engage sting operation:
“A Detroit police cruiser swooped in and officers took the man, a Southfield resident, into custody. The pretty undercover cop resumed her pavement prancing. More drivers were nabbed after offering the going rate of $15 to $30.
Of the six men caught during the recent two-hour sting operation on Detroit’s east side, five live in the suburbs.
Detroit’s underground economy mirrors the legitimate one: Both rely heavily on suburban investment. Suburbanites flock to Detroit to spend money on sporting events, dining, casinos — and attractions not touted by city boosters, like illicit sex and drugs. “
Entrapment as a Defense to Offer to Engage or Solicitation of Prostitute
In Michigan, the defense of entrapment requires a showing of either of the following:
The police engaged in impermissible conduct that would induce a law-abiding person to commit a crime in similar circumstances, or the police engaged in conduct so reprehensible that it cannot be tolerated.
The defense of ‘entrapment’ is rarely successful for parties fighting ‘offer to engage cases at trial in the City of Detroit.
Avoid Prostitution Related Conviction and Getting Out of the System with No Jail!
As I stated, the offense of OTE carries a mandatory jail sentence in the City of Detroit. Anyone in this situation should hire an attorney with experience handling these matters in the 36th District Court for the City of Detroit. Our firm recommends that a person facing an OTE do the following:
- Contact an attorney for legal services.
- Contact the Wayne County Prosecutor, Vehicle Seizure Unit, for instructions to get their motor vehicle returned (which typically costs $1,000.00 in forfeiture fees plus vehicle towing and impoundment). It has been our experience that settling with the prosecutor for the return of the motor vehicle is far less expensive than fighting the forfeiture proceeding in Court. It is also is very important to know that is not an admission of any criminal act or any wrongdoing by paying or entering into a settlement for the return of the vehicle.
The case will be scheduled for arraignment and other proceedings at the 36th District Court located at 421 Madison, Detroit, Michigan 48226. There are 29 elected full time Judges assigned to the 36th District Court. A Judge is assigned to the case for purpose all court proceedings. If the matter is not resolved, it will be scheduled for a trial. Our firm has resolved more than 95% of all OTE cases that we have handled by plea bargaining to a lesser offense. By resolving the mater, our firm has been able to:
- Avoid a conviction and the humiliation associated with a sexual related crime like OTE or solicitation of a prostitute,
- Obtain a plea bargain to amend the charge under the general disorderly conduct statute,
- Avoid jail,
- Avoid a public trial.
In most cases, short periods of probation can be obtained from 3 -6 months. In addition to probation, the Judge will require HIV testing and attendance of a class regarding impulsive conduct/decisions. The Judge has the final say regarding the terms of sentence for a criminal case.
We consider every case to be a personal matter and believe in protecting the privacy of our client while getting a client out of the system as discreetly and efficiently as possible. This approach mirrors that of our clients who seek transparent representation and a goal to avoid an expensive public trial. For these individuals, we have obtained favorable results to avoid jail, avoid a ‘sex’ related conviction and avoid the harsh consequences associated with an OTE or solicitation conviction. Depending on a person’s prior record, a petition for expungement may be filed after the statutory waiting period to have the matter entirely dismissed and sealed by the Court and State Police.