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Will it be a Criminal Offense for Cops to Have Undercover Sex with Prostitutes in Alaska?

Police Car in Alaska

Like elsewhere in the U.S., Alaska has strict laws about the buying, selling or promotion of sex for money, but until now those statutes have exempted police from the use of sexual contact in the course of their investigations into illegal trafficking or prostitution.

For some time, it has been argued by the pressure group called Community United for Safety Protection (CUSP) that there have been cases where police officers have been involved in sexual contact with Alaskan prostitutes in situations which would normally be described legally as “sexual abuse”, supposedly because it was part of a criminal investigation.

Action by CUSP has led to the hearing of two state bills which would do away with any immunity for police officers and make it a criminal offense for police to have any “sexual contact” with prostitutes in Alaska. The bills have got bogged down in the state legislature at the committee stage at present.

The bills probably would have passed without too much opposition until the Anchorage Police Department decided to fight them. They have argued that any sexual contact by any of their officers is minimal but crucial to any investigation. They say that their main focus is not on pursuing ordinary prostitutes as such, but sex trafficking.

CUSP says that this implies that police officers who have sexual contact with prostitutes as part of their official duty are deliberately targeting vulnerable women who are victims of trafficking. They say that some so-called “sexual contact” with prostitutes borders on “sexual abuse”.

The police department says that if the bills are passed, it will mean that it will give prostitutes a chance to evade arrest. With prior knowledge of the law suspicious prostitutes will be able to detect undercover police by asking them to touch them before accepting an encounter.

Activists who work on behalf of prostitutes say that the bills do not go far enough as even if the bills are passed, prostitutes will still be at the mercy of illegal sexual abuse by police officers as they will have little choice except to stay silent.

Alaska’s Prostitution Laws

Alaska’s state laws specifically prohibit the “selling, buying or promotion” of sex. That means that any person who actively sells sex for money or any person who pays a prostitute for sex is breaking the law.

That seems easy enough to understand, even though it is not an easy law to strictly enforce, simply because so much buying and selling of sex is not done in public. The “promotion” of sex is a bit more difficult to define.

The term “promotion” in Alaska incorporates two terms that are used elsewhere. These are “pimping” and “pandering.” Pimping involves making money from prostitution, whereas pandering is the facilitation of prostitution.

The term “promotion” can mean all sorts of activity where the law becomes difficult to interpret. Take an example where a motel owner or manager rents a room to a prostitute or a pimp, knowing what is going to take place. This would under Alaska law be regarded as “promotion” of prostitution and would constitute a class A misdemeanor. The difficulty is whether the motel manager or owner really did know that the room was being let out to facilitate illegal prostitution.

The actual offense of “prostitution” depends on a number of criteria. These include the age of the prostitute (i.e. whether s/he is a minor), the degree of force or violence used against the prostitute and how much the accused had control over the act of prostitution. Under Alaskan law, a prostitute cannot use the defense that there was no alternative to selling sex in order to survive financially. The reasoning is that there are adequate available resources in the community to avoid having to engage in prostitution.

If you have been accused of prostitution in Anchorage or anywhere else in Alaska, whether it is for buying, selling or the promotion of prostitution and feel that the charges are not correct, or you have reasons why your sentence should be minimized, talk to a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan in Anchorage. Contact one of our attorneys toll free at (907) 276-8008.

As a sidenote: It goes without saying that divorce is an unfortunate byproduct of this type of lifestyle when an individual resorts to this measure without seeking the proper support. Divorce lawyer Alsandor can be an adequate resource to you in the event your situation spirals into divorce.

Law Office of Dattan Scott Dattan

2600 Denali Street, Suite 460
Anchorage, AK 99503
Toll Free: (907) 276-8008 Anchorage Law Office Map

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