Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Michigan Cops May Lose Immunity for Having Sex With Suspects

The State of Michigan is considering passing a bill that would remove protections for police officers that have sexual intercourse with sex workers during prostitution investigations and stings. The bill was unanimously passed by the state senate, and now must pass through the house and be signed by the governor.

Support for the bill is rather strong, particularly as Michigan is the last state in the country to still have this type of immunity for officers on the books. Proponents of the bill explain that the immunity from criminal liability for officers having sex with an alleged sex worker during a prostitution investigation further victimizes sex workers, who are frequently the victims of pimping or human trafficking.

No Sex Undercover

When a law enforcement officer makes an arrest related to prostitution, there is no requirement that an officer catch either a sex worker or sex buyer in the act of having sexual intercourse or relations. Usually all that is required is that an agreement for sex in exchange for money be made, and one step towards accomplishing that goal be made. That step can be the exchange of money, the opening of a car door, the meeting at a hotel, or something more or less. Essentially, any action that indicates the agreement of sex act for money is about to be executed.

As illustrated by the numerous stories in the media of officers abusing their authority to have sex with sex workers before arresting them, even where no officer immunity exists, this conduct frequently goes unpunished.

Undercover Exposed

The idea that an undercover officer will be exposed as a cop if they are unwilling to have sex during a prostitution sting is a logical fallacy. To be able to sustain a charge of prostitution, a prosecutor does not need a completed, or even an initiated, sex act. As explained, all that is needed to prove criminal charges for solicitation of prostitution is the offer and agreement to exchange money for sexual acts, and any act that shows an intent to carry out the agreement. For an officer to go any further is an abuse of discretion and the public's trust.

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