Solicitation in Michigan can be applied to a number of offenses, more commonly including solicitation to commit murder and sex offenses including prostitution. Solicitation can be a felony of a misdemeanor depending upon the facts of the case. Felony cases involving solicitation include: Solicitation of Murder (MCL 750.157b(2)) is a life maximum felony; Solicitation or Providing Material Support for Terrorism (MCL 750.543k) is a 20 year maximum felony; Solicitation of a Felony Punishable by Life or 5 or More Years (MCL 750.157b(3)(a) is a 5 year felony; Solicitation of a Felony Punishable by Less than 5 Years (MCL 750.157b(3)(b) is a 2 year felony; Soliciting a Child to Commit an Immoral Act (MCL 750.145a) is a 4 year felony; Solicitation of a Minor to Commit a Felony (MCL 750.157c) is a felony that carries the same punishment as the underlying felony committed by the minor. Misdemeanor solicitation offenses carry a possible sentence of 1 year or less.
To prove guilt of solicitation, the prosecution must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that:
First, the Defendant, through words or actions, offered, promised, or gave money, services, or anything of value (or forgave or promised to forgive a debt or obligation owed) to another person.
Second, the Defendant intended that what he or she said or did would cause a particular crime to occur. The prosecutor dues not have to prove that the person the Defendant solicited actually committed, attempted to commit, or intended to commit the particular crime. Often, the Defendant is alleged to have made a statement or provided money to an undercover police officer for the purposes of committing a particular crime and is arrested shortly after doing so. Police officers have pretended to be contract killers, prostitutes, minor children, etc prior to the arrest of the Defendant. The defense of impossibility is not a defense to solicitation. The crime of solicitation is committed at the time the offer is made to an undercover police officer or another individual.
A possible defense to solicitation is renunciation. Renunciation means that the Defendant freely and completely renounced, or gave up, his or her criminal purpose. Renunciation can occur, for example, when an individual hires a hitman to perform a murder, and before the murder occurs he or she changes their mind and takes steps to prevent the crime from occurring. Renunciation is an affirmative defense that is outlined in MCL 750.157b(4) in which the Defendant actually has the burden to prove by a preponderance of the evidence the following:
First, that he or she gave up his or her criminal purpose voluntarily. Voluntarily means a true change of heart not influenced by outside circumstances. If the Defendant gave up the criminal purpose because of unexpected problems or resistance or because something has happened that made it likely that he or she would be discovered or caught, this is not a voluntary renunciation.
Second, that he or she gave up the criminal purpose completely. Completely means permanently and unconditionally. If the Defendant simply decided to commit the crime some other time or to commit it on a different victim or with a different criminal goal, this is not a complete renunciation.
Third, he or she must let the person solicited know that he or she was renouncing the criminal purpose.
Fourth, he or she warned the police in time and cooperated with them, or made a real effort in some other way to prevent the crime from happening.
Fifth, the crime did not happen. If the crime was completed, renunciation is not a defense.
The jury must look at all of the evidence that was admitted at trial. If the jury is satisfied that the evidence supporting renunciation outweighs the evidence against it, then the Defendant met the burden of proof and must find the Defendant not guilty. If renunciation is not established, the jury still must decide if the prosecution has proven the solicitation beyond a reasonable doubt.