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Prostitution & Solicitation


California prostitution laws are codified in California Pena Code Section 647(b).

What is California Prostitution and Solicitation?

Prostitution is defined as engaging in a sexual act in exchange for money or other consideration. Under Section 647(b), an individual can be convicted of engaging in the act of prostitution if he or she either (1) engaged in the act of prostitution or (2) agreed to or offered to engage in a sexual act in exchange for money or other consideration. Offering to engage in a sexual act in exchange for valuable consideration is known as solicitation. In cases where the charge is to agreeing to engage in a sexual act, the defendant must have also have done something in furtherance of the prostitution, like handing over payment or going to an agreed upon location.

Under California prostitution and solicitation laws, police officers may arrest and charge (1) the prostitute, (2) the customer or “john,” and (3) the middleman or “pimp.”

What are the possible penalties for California Prostitution and Solicitation?

Violations of Penal Code Section 647(b) are usually charged as misdemeanors. If convicted, a defendant faces up to six months in jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. However, prostitution is a “priorable” offense, meaning that penalties increase with each subsequent conviction. If convicted of prostitution for a second time a judge may sentence a defendant to a minimum of 45 days in county jail, and a minimum of 90 days for a third offense.

Additionally, if a defendant engaged in the act of prostitution (1) while using an automobile and (2) within 1,000 feet of a residence, a judge may also suspend the defendant’s driving license for 30 days or issue the defendant a restricted license for up to six months.

Even though it is rare and not required, a judge may also sentence a defendant convicted of prostitution or solicitation to register as a sex offender pursuant to Penal Code Section 290.

What are the defenses for California Prostitution and Solicitation?

There are several defenses that an individual can assert to charges of prostitution or solicitation.

  • Entrapment. Under California law, it is not sufficient for undercover police to provide a suspect with an opportunity to commit a crime. To rise to the level of entrapment, police had to coerce an individual to perpetrate a crime that he or she would not have otherwise perpetrated. This can often be very difficult to prove.
  • Mistake. If a defendant did not have the specific intent to engage in prostitution, they cannot be convicted under section 647. For example, a person found in a place known for prostitution or a person who calls an escort service for a bona fide date can argue that they did not intend to engage in prostitution and were in the place or called the service by mistake.
  • Insufficient Evidence. Insufficient evidence argues that there was either a lack of intent to engage in prostitution, that there was no firm agreement, that there was no act in furtherance of the agreement, or that the agreement was not for money or other valuable consideration.

Orange County Prostitution and Solicitation Defense at the Johnson Criminal Law Group

Our criminal defense attorney at the Johnson Criminal Law Group will provide you with experienced legal defense for prostitution and solicitation charges. If facing possible charges it is important to get in touch with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. We can be reached by phone at (949) 622-5522 or you can send us a message online today.

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