Despite being known as the "oldest profession in the world," prostitution still gets prosecuted aggressively as a criminal act. Prostitution, simply put, means to engage in a sexual act in exchange for money or other consideration (that is, other goods or services).
California prostitution law under Penal Code 647(b) PC prohibits
- engaging in the act of prostitution, and
- offering (this is also known as "solicitation") or agreeing to engage in the act of prostitution.1
So California's prostitution statute allow law enforcement officers to arrest
- the prostitute,
- the customer, otherwise known as a "john," and
- (where appropriate), the middleman, otherwise known as a pimp. The "pimp" is arrested if he/she (1) arranges or participates in soliciting the agreement, (2) receives part or all of a prostitute's pay, or (3) participates in procuring the prostitute. These crimes, described in Penal Code 266h and 266i PC, are commonly referred to as "pimping and pandering."2 A middleman may also be arrested under Penal Code 653.23 PC, which prohibits the more general crime of "supervising or aiding" a prostitute.3
There is often an enormous amount of political and social pressure to arrest those involved in prostitution offenses. As a result, law enforcement agencies typically invest substantial resources in vice squad operations.
Specific examples of behavior that can lead to California prostitution charges.or even a conviction...include:
- A man offering drugs to a young woman in exchange for a "blow job" (even if she is not a prostitute by profession and says no),
- A woman allowing a man to fondle her bare breasts in exchange for money, and
- A man accepting a woman's offer to have sex in exchange for money.
The California crime of prostitution (or solicitation) is a misdemeanor.4 For a first offense, the potential penalties include up to six (6) months in county jail, a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.5
If you are charged with prostitution, it is well worth it to fight the charges. There are a number of effective legal defenses that may help you get an dismissal or a reduction of charges. These include:
- Insufficient evidence,
- Lack of evidence, and
In order to better understand California's prostitution laws, our California criminal defense attorneys6 will address the following:
If, after reading this article, you have additional questions, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
There are three basic ways to violate California prostitution law under Penal Code 647(b) PC. Which specific prostitution offense prosecutors have charged you with will determine what facts (otherwise known as "elements of the crime") the prosecution must prove.
The legal definitions of the crimes of prostitution and solicitation focus on these elements.
For you to be guilty of engaging in an act of prostitution, the following must be true:
- you engaged in an act of prostitution, and
- you did so willfully.7
"Prostitution" means engaging in sexual intercourse or any lewd act with another person in exchange for money or other consideration.8
A "lewd" act is defined as any act that involves touching the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of another person with the specific intent to arouse or gratify someone sexually.9
"Willfully" means deliberately or on purpose. It does not require an intent to break the law.10
The legal definition of soliciting prostitution is:
- that you solicited another person to engage in an act of prostitution, and
- that you did so with the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.11
Depending on the nature of the exchange...and on who initiated the interaction...prosecutors could charge this offense against the prostitute or the customer (or "john").12
"Soliciting" means to lure, or to try to induce or elicit.13
And, in order to be guilty of soliciting, you have to have had the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution. This intent is typically evidenced by an offer to pay money or other compensation (typically drugs) in exchange for sexual acts14 ...not by a simple unspoken gesture or appearance.
Simply soliciting another person, without that specific intent, is insufficient to uphold a Penal Code 647(b) PC solicitation for prostitution case. The California Court of Appeals has noted that if it were sufficient, simply
- being present in a particular place (for example, being in a known area of prostitution),
- waving to a passing vehicle,
- nodding to a stranger, or
- even standing on a street corner in a miniskirt
- could give rise to this charge.15
Example: Katrina is a police officer participating in an undercover prostitution sting operation. Katrina puts on provocative clothing and stands on a street corner where prostitutes are known to gather.
Frank drives by Katrina several times in his car and then pulls over. He offers Katrina $200 to have sex with him and shows her that he has the cash. Frank will probably be arrested for solicitation of prostitution...his actions clearly indicate an intent to initiate a prostitution transaction.
It should be noted that one court has even gone so far as to require a third element of the legal definition of solicitation- that the individual being solicited must actually receive the solicitation.16
As a result, under this approach if you can prove that no one actually received your offer to pay for sexual services...perhaps the prostitute didn't hear you or a pimp didn't convey the offer...you are not guilty of this charge.
In that case, prosecutors could elect to charge you with attempted solicitation...subjecting you to three months in jail and a $500 fine (which is half the maximum amount of jail time and half the maximum fine that are imposed in connection with Penal Code 647(b) PC charges).17 (Penalties for prostitution offenses are discussed in more detail in Section 3 (What are the Penalties for Prostitution in California?), below.)
Example: Take Frank in our earlier example. Let's say that he stops his car across the street from where Katrina is standing, pulls out cash and waves it in her direction, and shouts his offer to pay her for sex from across the street. But at this moment Katrina is distracted by what looks to her like a violent fight starting between two people down the street...she doesn't notice Frank or hear his offer.
But Katrina's partner Tommy is in a car closer to where Frank is standing. He hears Frank make the offer. Even if Katrina didn't receive the solicitation, Tommy may still arrest Frank for attempted solicitation.
For you to be guilty of agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, the prosecutor must be able to prove that:
- you agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with another person,
- you did so with the specific intent of engaging in an act of prostitution,and
- in addition to the agreement, you performed an act in furtherance of prostitution.18
This offense is the mirror image of soliciting prostitution. The person who makes an offer or proposal to engage in a prostitution transaction will be charged with soliciting...but the person who accepts the offer or proposal will be charged with agreeing to engage in prostitution.
It isn't enough to have the specific intent to engage in an act of prosecution. You must perform an act in furtherance of prostitution. It is this third element that makes this charge unique.
Prosecutors can charge you with prostitution even if the person who made the offer or solicitation didn't possess the same intent.19 This would be the case if, for example, the "prostitute" was really an undercover decoy officer whose only intent was to lure you into agreeing to the act.
An act "in furtherance of prostitution" means something more than just accepting the solicitation. This "act" could be
- driving to an agreed-upon location where the sexual activity will take place,20
- handing over the agreed-upon payment, or
- withdrawing money from an ATM in order to pay the other person.
In some cases, the additional act in furtherance of prostitution can consist of speech...as long as the speech is clear and unambiguous, and is something more than just accepting the solicitation.21
Example: Jenny is a prostitute. She meets a "customer" who is actually an undercover cop. He proposes a prostitution transaction, and Jenny agrees. She then tells him to undress.
Jenny's instructing the customer to undress is a legitimate act in furtherance of prostitution. So she may be charged with agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution.22
It doesn't matter what the act is, as long as it clarifies or corroborates the fact that an agreement to engage in an act of prostitution has been reached.
It is also important to note that when the act takes place is not important...that the act takes place is. So this act can take place before, during, or after the agreement.23
Another noteworthy point is that this "act in furtherance" must be clearly stated in the formal written charge against you (otherwise known as a "complaint"). If it isn't, it is a Due Process violation that may allow you to file a motion to dismiss the charge.24
It should finally be noted that any evidence such as
- possession of condoms,
- possession of large amounts of money,
- possession of a "client book," and/or
- your attire
may all help to show that you are guilty of one of the above offenses. However, none of these "evidentiary" items is sufficient in and of itself to prove that you are guilty of Penal Code 647(b) prostitution.
Prostitution, solicitation, and agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution under Penal Code 647(b) PC are all misdemeanor offenses.25
If convicted, you may face:
- up to six (6) months in county jail, and/or
- up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) in fines.26
Prostitution / solicitation is a "priorable" offense...which means that the punishment necessarily increases with each subsequent offense. If you are convicted for your second prostitution or solicitation offense, the judge will sentence you to a minimum of forty-five (45) days in a county jail.27
And if you are convicted of a third prostitution or solicitation offense, the judge must order a minimum of ninety (90) days in a county jail.28
In addition to these penalties, if you committed the offense (1) while using a car, and (2) within 1,000 feet of a residence, the court may
- suspend your driver's license for up to thirty (30) days, or
- issue you a restricted license for up to six (6) months.29
If the judge grants you a restricted license, it allows you to drive to and from work or school. If driving is a necessary part of your employment, a restricted license also allows you to drive within the scope of your employment.30
It is also important to note that, if you commit one of the above offenses in Los Angeles while in your car, the government may seize and forfeit your vehicle in addition to the above penalties.31 This is a form of California asset forfeiture.
Neither prostitution nor solicitation under Penal Code 647(b) requires automatic sex offender registration pursuant to California Penal Code 290 PC. However, the judge could order you to register as part of your sentence.32
As a practical matter, this provision is rarely, if ever, imposed in connection with prostitution cases. That said...
If the judge finds that you engaged in (or solicited or agreed to engage in) an act of prostitution "as the result of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification," he/she can order you to register as a sex offender.33 Incidentally, failure to register as a sex offender under California Penal Code 290 PC is a separate felony offense, which subjects you to additional severe criminal penalties.34
The two most common prostitution charge reductions are
- California Penal Code 415 PC Disturbing the Peace 35, and
- California Criminal Trespass under Penal Code 602 PC.36
While neither of these charges really has anything to do with prostitution or solicitation, they are crimes that send a signal to other law enforcement agencies that you originally faced a prostitution charge. But employers and people in your personal life may not know that this is what these charges imply.
The stigma of having a prostitution / solicitation conviction on your criminal record can damage your reputation, career, and family life. Because of this, it is important to consult with a California criminal defense attorney who knows the most effective ways to have your Penal Code 647(b) charge reduced.
There are also a variety of common legal defenses that a California prostitution defense attorney can present on your behalf in an effort to secure your acquittal. Some of the most common of these are:
Entrapment occurs when a police officer behaves in an overbearing way . . . for example, by applying pressure, harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats . . . and as a result a defendant engages in behavior s/he otherwise would not have.37 The California entrapment defenses basically states that you are not guilty of a crime for activity you commit under these circumstances.
The entrapment defense can be useful since a large number of prostitution / solicitation arrests are made using undercover "decoy" officers. These undercover officers typically pose as prostitutes, but sometimes they pose as "johns" as well. The officers participating in these undercover sting operations try to get suspects to agree to engage in (or to engage in) acts of prostitution.
The problem is that many of these "suspects" are otherwise law abiding citizens who were unfairly lured into the offense by savvy cops. Therefore entrapment should always be explored as a possible prostitution / solicitation defense.
Example: Ted is away from home on business and meets a woman who calls herself "Stacy" at the hotel bar. Ted thinks Stacy might be a prostitute, but he is not sure. She is very attractive and tells Ted repeatedly how attractive she finds him. Ted is so flattered by the way Stacy treats him that he agrees to let her come up to his hotel room.
Once they are in his hotel room, Stacy suggests that she have sex with Ted for five hundred dollars. Ted would never have hired a prostitute on his own initiative...but now that Stacy is in his room, he feels like he can't back out and agrees. Stacy then tells him that she's an undercover cop and arrests him.
Ted might be able to use the entrapment defense to fight charges that he agreed to prostitution. Stacy's aggressive come-ons may have induced him to do something he wouldn't otherwise have done.
Lack of trustworthy evidence
Without reliable evidence showing beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in prostitution or solicitation, you should not be criminally liable for those crimes.
This is an effective defense...particularly with respect to Los Angeles prostitution / solicitation cases...where there is often no recorded evidence of the "agreement" to engage in prostitution. For example, the LAPD frequently wires their undercover officers but doesn't always record the conversations between the cop and the prostitute or "john."
This raises a red flag for jurors. If the officer was wired, why didn't he/she record the conversation for evidence? What is the officer hiding? Is he/she lying? Exaggerating? Without hearing the conversation itself, jurors are hesitant to convict on a California Penal Code 647(b) charge.
This defense is different from the one above. Insufficient evidence does not mean that there is no evidence...instead, it means that the evidence that is presented may not clearly prove that the crime was committed.
"Insufficient evidence" encompasses a number of issues. Perhaps there wasn't a clear and definite agreement to exchange sex for money, but rather an ambiguous conversation. Perhaps there was an agreement to engage in sex, but no agreement that it would be for money or other consideration.
Perhaps there was no act in furtherance of the agreement to engage in sexual activity. Perhaps the solicitation was only a joke and there was no actual "specific intent" to engage in sexual intercourse or any other lewd act.
If you didn't specifically intend to engage in a sex act, you are not guilty of prostitution or solicitation. This means that if you reply to a "call girl" or "escort" service ad...intending only to secure a date or companion...you are not guilty of prostitution / solicitation.
Similarly, just because you were found in a place known for prostitution (a certain intersection, or a certain "massage" parlor, for example) doesn't mean you were actively involved in prostitution / solicitation.
In any of these cases, the legal defense of mistake of fact may help you beat the charges.
California law continues to treat prostitution as a serious crime. But in fact prostitution has existed since the beginning of time. Trading sex for other goods or services is certainly not a new or novel concept.
In the 18thth century, during the Revolutionary War, prostitutes often "served" American soldiers. The government was concerned about the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which was actually a very legitimate concern. By way of example, during the 19th century an estimated 75% of men in Manhattan had acquired some type of STD.38
Prostitution was on the rise and, although it was "technically" illegal, police didn't really enforce the laws. In fact, they were often bribed by brothel owners and madams.39
It wasn't until 1961 that California introduced Penal Code 647 prohibiting "disorderly conduct" . . . which includes prostitution.40 Back then, Penal Code 647(b) PC only penalized soliciting or engaging in acts of prostitution...agreeing to acts of prostitution wasn't prohibited until 1986.41
It was this amendment to Penal Code 647(b) that led to an increased number of California prostitution arrests. Prior to the code's revision, "street-wise" prostitutes knew they could avoid a prostitution charge by simply agreeing to whatever conditions the customer or "john" personally suggested.42
As a result, prostitutes "in the know" rarely solicited the offense, and undercover decoy officers posing as "johns" were frequently unable to make arrests. For example, before 1986, if an undercover cop posing as a customer or "john" approached a streetwalker and proposed a prostitution transaction to her...and she simply agreed to his proposal...she wouldn't be guilty of a crime.
But once the 1986 amendment made it a crime to agree to engage in prostitution, that was no longer the case. The amendment gave law enforcement another tool to enforce California prostitution laws that were otherwise difficult to enforce.
As an added protection against entrapment defense that were frequently raised by those arrested for solicitation / prostitution (and that we discussed in Section 3 above... the California Legislature added another requirement to Penal Code 647(b) PC. In order to convict a defendant of agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, the prosecutor additionally had to prove that the defendant committed an act in furtherance of the agreement to engage in an act of prostitution.43
These days, undercover "sting" operations are a common way for officers to make prostitution arrests. Police monitor massage parlors, strip clubs, and the streets in order to bust illegal prostitution operations. The officers additionally pose as "johns" responding to online advertisements for "call girls," "escorts," or girls just "looking to have fun" that are routinely placed on websites such as Craigslist.
Despite all this law enforcement activity, prostitution continues to be big business in the United States. Studies estimate that over one million people in America have worked as prostitutes.44 There is also a small but growing movement of people advocating for the legalization of prostitution. One United Nations report concluded that legalizing prostitution would do much more to improve the lives of prostitutes and slow the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS than the current punitive approach.45
"Pimping" essentially means collecting all or part of a prostitute's pay, including in exchange for finding customers for her. You commit the crime of "pandering" if you recruit or encourage someone to become a prostitute or remain a prostitute, or otherwise "make available" another person for the purpose of prostitution.46
Penal Code 266h and 266i PC, California's "pimping and pandering" laws, were enacted to discourage the expansion of prostitution. Although they are two separate laws, they both prohibit conduct that revolves around prostitution.
Both crimes are felonies, subjecting an offender to three (3), four (4), or six (6) years in the California state prison.47
Penal Code 647(a) PC lewd conduct in public occurs when a person engages in...or solicits someone else to engage in...certain sexual conduct in a public place.48
Therefore, lewd conduct in public is often charged in connection with a prostitution charge if the prostitution act takes place in a public place....or if a solicited or agreed-upon prostitution act would take place in a public place.
According to Beverly Hills sex crimes defense attorney John Murray:49
"I frequently see this, often around the intersection of Sunset Blvd. and Hobart Blvd. in Hollywood. The cops set up a surveillance post to 'watch' a known prostitute. As soon as the police see a 'john' make contact with the prostitute, they follow the suspects, usually to a dark street or parking lot away from others. Once they engage in an act of prostitution (typically in the locked car), the police approach and arrest both parties for 647(a) and 647(b)."
Since the police are only watching from a distance, they don't know the exact conversation that took place between the parties. As a result, it's often very difficult for the prostitution charge to stick, unless either of the parties admits to the agreement.
If you stay quiet and invoke your right to remain silent, you will usually only get charged with 647(a) lewd conduct in public.
Lewd conduct in public is not only a less serious offense...it isn't priorable like a prostitution charge.50 But it's also difficult to prove when it takes place according to the above scenario. This is because a lewd conduct charge requires the prosecutor to prove that your conduct took place in a public area where you knew or reasonably should have known that someone who may be offended by the conduct was present.51
In the case of the "sting operations" described above, the suspects usually (1) drive to a remote location, (2) are in a car (usually equipped with tinted windows), and (3) engage in the act at night when it's dark. They take these steps because no one else is around . . . which, again, makes lewd conduct in public more difficult to prove.
Closely related to the crimes of pimping and pandering is the crime of "supervising or aiding a prostitute" per Penal Code 653.23. Basically, anyone who helps someone else commit prostitution or solicitation, or even loiter for the purpose of committing prostitution, can be accused of this crime.52 For example, if you drive a friend to a location where he plans to hire a prostitute, you might be charged with aiding in prostitution.
Supervising or aiding a prostitute is a misdemeanor and carries the same penalties as prostitution / solicitation: up to six (6) months in county jail, a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.53
You commit the crime of loitering to commit prostitution (Penal Code 653.22 PC) when you loiter in a public place with the specific intent to engage in prostitution. The California legislature added this section to help police enforce against suspects they believe to be working as prostitutes, even when they don't have direct evidence.
For example, police may observe a woman dressed like a prostitute, standing on a street corner notorious for prostitution, waving at cars and appearing to be looking for customers. This alone is probably sufficient to trigger an arrest for loitering to commit prostitution.
Penal Code 653.22 is a misdemeanor. A conviction carries up to six months of jail, a fine of up to one thousand dollars ($1,000), or both.
As set forth in Penal Code 314 PC, California indecent exposure laws prohibit "exposing" your genitals in public.54 In order to be guilty of indecent exposure, you must specifically intend to direct public attention to your genitals.55
Many prostitution acts take place in private cars, hotel rooms, or remote, secluded areas. So, while it may seem that an act of prostitution could additionally trigger this charge, this typically wouldn't be the case.
California Penal Code 261 PC rape is defined as nonconsensual sexual intercourse.56 While it may seem like this charge therefore wouldn't apply in a situation where there is an "agreement" to engage in an act of prostitution, it still could.
Even though sexual intercourse may be consensual in the beginning, if at any point it's not, the forced act could be classified as rape. If, for example, the customer is being too rough with the prostitute, and she asks him to stop, and he refuses to, he could face liability for prostitution and Penal Code 261 rape.
Call Us for Help...
If you or loved one is charged with Penal Code 647(b) PC prostitution and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.
For more information on the crime of prostitution under Nevada law, see our page on the crime of prostitution under Nevada law.
¿Habla español? Visite nuestro sitio Web en español sobre el delito de la prostitución en California.
We have local criminal law offices in Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, Orange County, San Bernardino, Ventura, San Jose, the San Francisco Bay area, and several nearby cities to conveniently serve you.
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Information and advocacy for sex workers and adult entertainment industries.
1 California Penal Code 647 PC -- Disorderly conduct [Prostitution]. ("Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: . . . (b) Who solicits or who agrees to engage in or who engages in any act of prostitution. A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution. No agreement to engage in an act of prostitution shall constitute a violation of this subdivision unless some act, in addition to the agreement, is done within this state in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act. As used in this subdivision, "prostitution" includes any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration.")
2 California Penal Code 266h -- Pimping and pimping a minor; punishment. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, lives or derives support or maintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of the person's prostitution, or from money loaned or advanced to or charged against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or who solicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, is guilty of pimping, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years. (b) Any person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, lives or derives support or maintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of the person's prostitution, or from money loaned or advanced to or charged against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or who solicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, when the prostitute is a minor, is guilty of pimping a minor, a felony, and shall be punishable as follows: (1) If the person engaged in prostitution is a minor 16 years of age or older, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years. (2) If the person engaged in prostitution is under 16 years of age, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.")
See also Penal Code 266i -- Pandering and pandering with a minor; punishment. ("(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who does any of the following is guilty of pandering, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years: (1) Procures another person for the purpose of prostitution. (2) By promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades or encourages another person to become a prostitute. (3) Procures for another person a place as an inmate in a house of prostitution or as an inmate of any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state. (4) By promises, threats, violence or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades or encourages an inmate of a house of prostitution, or any other place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed, to remain therein as an inmate. (5) By fraud or artifice, or by duress of person or goods, or by abuse of any position of confidence or authority, procures another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to enter any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. (6) Receives or gives, or agrees to receive or give, any money or thing of value for procuring, or attempting to procure, another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution. (b) Any person who does any of the acts described in subdivision (a) with another person who is a minor is guilty of pandering, a felony, and shall be punishable as follows: (1) If the other person is a minor over the age of 16 years, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years. (2) If the other person is under 16 years of age, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.")
3Penal Code 653.23 PC - Supervising or otherwise aiding a prostitute. ("(a) It is unlawful for any person to do either of the following: (1) Direct, supervise, recruit, or otherwise aid another person in the commission of a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647 or subdivision (a) of Section 653.22. (2) Collect or receive all or part of the proceeds earned from an act or acts of prostitution committed by another person in violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647.")
4 California Penal Code 647 PC - Prostitution. ("Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: . . .").
5 California Penal Code 19 PC - Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed. ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")
6Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys have local criminal law offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier. We represent clients accused of prostitution and solicitation throughout California.
7 California Jury Instructions - criminal. CALJIC 16.420 - Prostitution. ("In order to prove this crime, each of the following elements must be proved:  A person engaged in an act of prostitution; and  The person did so willfully.]")
8 See same. ("Prostitution" is engaging in [sexual intercourse] [or] [any lewd act between persons] for money or other consideration.")
9 See same. ("["Lewd act," as used in this instruction, means any act which involves the touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of one person by any part of the body of another person and is done with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify.]")
10 CALJIC 1.20 -- Wilfully defined. ("The word "willfully" when applied to the intent with which an act is done or omitted means with a purpose or willingness to commit the act or to make the omission in question. The word "willfully" does not require any intent to violate the law, or to injure another, or to acquire any advantage.")
11 CALJIC 16.420 -- Prostitution. (" A person solicited another person to engage in any act of prostitution; and  That person did so with the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.]")
12 Leffel v. Municipal Court (1976) 54 Cal.App.3d 569, 575. ("The words, 'every person . . . who solicits . . . any act of prostitution', are clear and unambiguous. 'Every', means 'each and all within the range of contemplated possibilities.' (Webster's New Internat. Dict. (3d ed. 1961) Unabridged, p. 788.) 'Solicit,' means, 'to . . . entreat or importune . . .: to approach with a request or plea.' (Supra, at p. 2169.) 'Prostitution', means, 'the act or practice of indulging in promiscuous sexual relations esp. for payment.' (Supra, at p. 1822.) Thus, the ordinary meaning of the statute is that All persons, customers as well as prostitutes, who solicit an act of prostitution are guilty of disorderly conduct.")
13 People v. Superior Court (Hartway) (1977) 19 Cal.3d 338, 345. ("'Solicit' was defined in a related context-soliciting for a prostitute, i.e., pimping (Pen.Code, s 266h)-in People v. Phillips (1945) 70 Cal.App.2d 449, 160 P.2d 872. "To tempt (a person); to lure on, esp. into evil, . . . to bring about, forth, on, etc., by gentle or natural operations; to seek to induce or elicit; . . .(') (Webster's New International Dictionary (2d ed.) (.)) 'To appeal to (for something); to apply to for obtaining something; to ask earnestly; to ask for the purpose of receiving; to endeavor to obtain by asking or pleading; to entreat, implore, or importune; to make petition to; to plead for; to try to obtain. . . .")
14 People v. Love (1980) 111 Cal.App.3d Supp. 1, 15. ("By contrast, the trial court's instruction that the specific intent required was "to communicate to another an offer of sex for money or other consideration" would make the crime of solicitation a general intent crime. Under the Hood, definition of the act would be accomplished and completed as soon as the words of solicitation were spoken. The "communication" of the offer is only one element of the crime and the trial court's definition thus leaves out an essential element of the offense. A defendant is not guilty of the offense unless he or she seriously intends to carry through by performing an act of prostitution. A mere speaking of the words of solicitation is not enough for conviction of this offense.")
15 In re White (1979) 97 Cal.App.3d 141, 147. ("Mere presence at a particular place, without more, does not amount to solicitation. Nor, without more, is " 'waving to a passing vehicle, nodding to a passing stranger, or standing on a street corner in a miniskirt' " (People v. Superior Court (Hartway) (1977) 19 Cal.3d 338, 346, 138 Cal.Rptr. 66, 69, 562 P.2d 1315, 1318). There are simply innumerable situations in which a probationer could be in the map area which are unrelated to prostitution. The condition relates to conduct which is not criminal. Many perfectly legal activities are covered by this condition which have no relationship whatsoever to soliciting...")
16 People v. Saephanh (2000) 80 Cal.App.4th 451, 459. ("Uncommunicated soliciting messages do not expose others to inducements to commit crimes. Nor is there a likelihood that an uncommunicated message would result in the commission of crimes. Thus, letters posted but not delivered do not give rise to the dangers from which section 653f seeks to protect society. However, messages urging commission of a crime which are received expose individuals to invitation to crime and create a risk of criminal activity. Criminalizing completed solicitations furthers the policies of protecting individuals from exposure to inducements to commit crimes and preventing commission of the crimes solicited. Thus, a conviction for a violation of section 653f requires proof that the person solicited received the soliciting communication. One cannot "solicit another" without a completed communication. The communication is only completed when it is received by its intended recipient.")
17 California Penal Code 664 -- Attempts; punishment. ("Every person who attempts to commit any crime, but fails, or is prevented or intercepted in its perpetration, shall be punished where no provision is made by law for the punishment of those attempts, as follows: (b) If the crime attempted is punishable by imprisonment in a county jail, the person guilty of the attempt shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a term not exceeding one-half the term of imprisonment prescribed upon a conviction of the offense attempted. (c) If the offense so attempted is punishable by a fine, the offender convicted of that attempt shall be punished by a fine not exceeding one-half the largest fine which may be imposed upon a conviction of the offense attempted." This includes acts of California attempted prostitution / solicitation.)
18 CALJIC 16.420 - Prostitution. (" A person agreed with another person to engage in an act of prostitution;  That person did so with the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution; and  In addition to the agreement, the person did an act in furtherance of prostitution.]")
19 California Penal Code 647(b) -- Prostitution. ("A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution.")
20 In re Cheri T. (1999) 70 Cal.App.4th 1400, 1409. ("After coming to terms with Eldridge, appellant told him to drive to a dark place, presumably for the purpose of orally copulating him. We view this as an act in furtherance of the agreement to engage in an act of prostitution which occurred after the agreement was reached.")
21 Kim v. Superior Court (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 937, 945. ("Given the foregoing and bearing in mind the Legislature's concerns about false arrests and entrapment, we hold that words can be an act in furtherance. Not all statements will suffice; to constitute an act that satisfies the statutory requirement, the statements must be unambiguous and unequivocal in conveying that the agreed act of prostitution will occur and move the parties toward completion of the act.")
22 Based on the facts of the same.
23 In re Cheri T., endnote 28, above at 1407. ("It is not necessary to impose the additional requirement that the clarifying or corroborative act must occur after the agreement was made. For the reasons set forth above, such an interpretation would produce the absurd result of making the offense of agreeing to an act of prostitution coextensive with the previously existing crime of conspiracy. It would also create yet another potential loophole for the streetwise streetwalker, who could make his or her meaning clear, yet escape prosecution because the act by which he or she did so occurred before an agreement had been reached. That is precisely what happened here. Appellant first grabbed Eldridge's crotch to make sure he was not a police officer, then said he could touch her if he wanted to assure himself that she was not a police officer. Appellant did so to let him know she was not an undercover officer pretending to accept the solicitation for an act of prostitution but instead clearly intended to perform. Her conduct thus eliminated any ambiguities as to what she agreed to do. After that, she agreed to orally copulate Eldridge for $30. Her previous conduct and statements were in furtherance of that agreement.")
24 Gaylord v. Municipal Court (1987) 196 Cal.App.3d 1348, 1350. ("Hence the issue presented in this proceeding is whether a complaint charging violation of section 647, subdivision (b) by agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution must specify an "act, beside the agreement ... in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution." We conclude that a complaint must so specify and, inasmuch as the complaint in the instant case does not do so, petitioner is entitled to relief. (2) The language in section 647, subdivision (b) is clear. The provision clearly makes an "act in furtherance" an essential element of the offense of agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution; hence, absent an allegation of such an act a complaint does not advise the defendant of the charge against him and thereby denies him due process of law and fails to comply with the requirements of section 952.")
25 California Penal Code 647 PC -- Prostitution. ("Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: . . .")
26 California Penal Code 19 PC - Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed. ("Except in cases where a different punishment is prescribed by any law of this state, every offense declared to be a misdemeanor is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months, or by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both.")
27 California Penal Code 647 -- Prostitution/solicitation. ("(k) In any accusatory pleading charging a violation of subdivision (b), if the defendant has been once previously convicted of a violation of that subdivision, the previous conviction shall be charged in the accusatory pleading. If the previous conviction is found to be true by the jury, upon a jury trial, or by the court, upon a court trial, or is admitted by the defendant, the defendant shall be imprisoned in a county jail for a period of not less than 45 days and shall not be eligible for release upon completion of sentence, on probation, on parole, on work furlough or work release, or on any other basis until he or she has served a period of not less than 45 days in a county jail. In all cases in which probation is granted, the court shall require as a condition thereof that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 45 days. In no event does the court have the power to absolve a person who violates this subdivision from the obligation of spending at least 45 days in confinement in a county jail.")
28 See same. ("In any accusatory pleading charging a violation of [California Penal Code 647] subdivision (b) [prostitution/solicitation], if the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of a violation of that subdivision, each of these previous convictions shall be charged in the accusatory pleading. If two or more of these previous convictions are found to be true by the jury, upon a jury trial, or by the court, upon a court trial, or are admitted by the defendant, the defendant shall be imprisoned in a county jail for a period of not less than 90 days and shall not be eligible for release upon completion of sentence, on probation, on parole, on work furlough or work release, or on any other basis until he or she has served a period of not less than 90 days in a county jail. In all cases in which probation is granted, the court shall require as a condition thereof that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 90 days. In no event does the court have the power to absolve a person who violates this subdivision from the obligation of spending at least 90 days in confinement in a county jail.")
29 See same. ("In addition to any punishment prescribed by this section [for prostitution / solicitation], a court may suspend, for not more than 30 days, the privilege of the person to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to Section 13201.5 of the Vehicle Code for any violation of subdivision (b) that was committed within 1,000 feet of a private residence and with the use of a vehicle. In lieu of the suspension, the court may order a person's privilege to operate a motor vehicle restricted, for not more than six months, to necessary travel to and from the person's place of employment or education. If driving a motor vehicle is necessary to perform the duties of the person's employment, the court may also allow the person to drive in that person's scope of employment.")
30 See same.
31Los Angeles Municipal Code 41.70 -- Nuisance vehicles - Prostitution. This code sets forth the requirements and procedures for seizing and forfeiting a car used in the commission of a prostitution offense.
32 California Penal Code 290.006 PC is part of what's known as the "Sex Offender Registration Act." It states that. "Any person ordered by any court to register pursuant to the Act for any offense not included specifically in subdivision (c) of Section 290 [such as prostitution or solicitation under Penal Code 647b PC], shall so register, if the court finds at the time of conviction or sentencing that the person committed the offense as a result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification. The court shall state on the record the reasons for its findings and the reasons for requiring registration."
33 See same.
34 California Penal Code 290.018 PC - Penalties for [failure to register as a sex offender]. ("(a) Any person who is required to register under the Act based on a misdemeanor conviction or juvenile adjudication who willfully violates any requirement of the act is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year. (b) Except as provided in subdivisions (f), (h), and (j), any person who is required to register under the act based on a felony conviction or juvenile adjudication who willfully violates any requirement of the act or who has a prior conviction or juvenile adjudication for the offense of failing to register under the act and who subsequently and willfully violates any requirement of the act is guilty of a felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 16 months, or two or three years. (c) If probation is granted or if the imposition or execution of sentence is suspended, it shall be a condition of the probation or suspension that the person serve at least 90 days in a county jail. The penalty described in subdivision (b) or this subdivision shall apply whether or not the person has been released on parole or has been discharged from parole.")
35 California Penal Code 415 PC -- Fighting; noise; offensive words [offense reduction from prostitution]. ("Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment and fine: (1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or challenges another person in a public place to fight. (2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another person by loud and unreasonable noise. (3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.")
36 California Penal Code 602 PC defines a variety of ways that an individual commits criminal trespass [offense reduction from prostitution]. Simply put, Penal Code 602 PC trespass prohibits entering another person's property without permission to do so. See California Penal Code 602 PC - Trespasses constituting misdemeanors; enumeration. ("Except as provided in subdivision (u), subdivision (v), subdivision (x), and Section 602.8, every person who willfully commits a trespass by any of the following acts is guilty of a misdemeanor: . . . ")
37 See People v. West, (1956) 139 Cal.App.2d Supp. 923, 924. ("Entrapment is the conception and planning of an offense by an officer and his procurement of its commission by one who would not have perpetrated it except for the trickery, persuasion, or fraud of the officer. Persuasion or allurement must be used to entrap.")
38Prostitution in the United States. ("In the 19th century, parlor house brothels catered to upper class clientele, while bawdy houses catered to the lower class. At concert saloons, men could eat, listen to music, watch a fight, or pay women for sex. Over 200 brothels existed in lower Manhattan. Prostitution was illegal under the vagrancy laws, but was not well-enforced by police and city officials, who were bribed by brothel owners and madams. Attempts of regulate prostitution were struck down on grounds that it is again the public good. Seventy-five percent of New York men had some type of sexually transmitted disease.") Taken from "XY factor, Prostitution: Sex in the City (History Channel).
39 See same.
40 California Penal Code 647 PC [Prostitution] Historical and Statutory Notes: ("As added in 1961, the section read: "Every person who commits any of the following acts shall be guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: "(b) Who solicits or who engages in any act of prostitution.")
41 See same. ("The 1986 amendment by Stats.1986, c. 1276, rewrote subd. (b) [of California Penal Code 647 regarding prostitution / solicitation]...")
42 Kim v. Superior Court (2006) 136 Cal.App.4th 937, 941. ("The provision expanding section 647(b) to permit conviction for an agreement to engage in an act of prostitution was added by the Statutes of 1986, chapter 1276, section 1, pages 4457-4459 (Sen. Bill No. 2169). Senator David Roberti sponsored the bill on behalf of the City of Los Angeles. (Assem. Com. on Pub. Safety, Analysis on Sen. Bill No. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 11, 1986, p. 1.) At the time of the bill's introduction, unlike 24 other states with prohibitions against agreements to engage in lewd acts for money, California law barred only prostitution and its solicitation. ( Ibid.) According to the proponent, "most prostitutes kn[e]w that if they wait[ed] until a customer mention[ed] money or sex, and then simply approve[d] the conditions, they [could not] be found guilty of soliciting prostitution. Consequently, street-wise prostitutes rarely 'solicit [ed]' prostitution, and undercover officers posing as customers often [were] unable to make arrests for prostitution." (Ibid.) The legislation was, therefore, "intended to give police another enforcement tool" on "prostitution laws that [were] difficult to enforce." (Ibid.)")
43 See same at 942. ("Senate Bill 1276 initially prohibited only the agreement to engage in an act of prostitution. (Sen. Bill No. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as introduced Feb. 20, 1986.) To minimize false arrests, entrapment and use of the entrapment defense, however, the bill was amended prior to passage to include the language requiring an act in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act. (Sen. Bill No. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 11, 1986; Sen Com. on Judiciary, Analysis on Sen. Bill. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as introduced Feb. 20, 1986, pp. 4-5; Assem. Com. on Pub. Safety, Analysis on Sen. Bill No. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as introduced June 30, 1986, pp. 2-3; Assem. Com. on Pub. Safety, Analysis on Sen. Bill No. 2169 (1985-1986 Reg. Sess.) as amended Aug. 11, 1986, pp. 3-4.)")
44 See Prostitution in the United States-The Statistics, www.bayswan.org.
45 See United Nations panel recommends legalizing prostitution and drug use worldwide, Examiner.com, July 25, 2012. See also Why it's time to legalize prostitution, CSMonitor.com, June 3, 2010.
46 See California Penal Code 266h -- Pimping and pimping a minor; punishment; and Penal Code 266i -- Pandering and pandering with a minor; punishment; endnote 11, above.
47 See same.
48 California Penal Code 647 PC -- Disorderly Conduct [including lewd conduct and prostitution]. ("Every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: (a) Who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.")
49 Beverly Hills sex crimes defense attorney John Murray is a seasoned criminal defense lawyer and featured legal expert commentator on Fox News. He defends those accused of prostitution / solicitation throughout Los Angeles and Ventura counties, making appearances at the Hollywood Courthouse, Inglewood Courthouse, Glendale Courthouse, Burbank Courthouse, and Van Nuys Courthouse, among others.
50 California Penal Code 647 PC -- Disorderly Conduct [including lewd conduct and prostitution]
51 Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instruction ("CALCRIM") 1161 -- Lewd Conduct in Public (Pen. Code, � 647(a)). ("The defendant is charged [in Count ] with engaging in lewd conduct in public [in violation of Penal Code section 647(a)]. To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:  The defendant willfully engaged in the touching of ((his/her) own/ [or] another person's) genitals, buttocks, or female breast;  The defendant did so with the intent to sexually arouse or gratify (himself/herself) or another person, or to annoy or offend another person;  At the time the defendant engaged in the conduct, (he/she) was in (a public place/ [or] a place open to the public [or to public view]);  At the time the defendant engaged in the conduct, someone else who might have been offended was present; AND  The defendant knew or reasonably should have known that another person who might have been offended by (his/her) conduct was present.")
52 California Penal Code 653.23 PC -- Supervising or otherwise aiding a prostitute [i.e., aiding prostitution]. ("(a) It is unlawful for any person to do either of the following: (1) Direct, supervise, recruit, or otherwise aid another person in the commission of a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647 or subdivision (a) of Section 653.22. (2) Collect or receive all or part of the proceeds earned from an act or acts of prostitution committed by another person in violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647.")
53 Penal Code 653.26 PC - Violation is misdemeanor. ("A violation of any provision of this chapter [aiding or supervising prostitution] is a misdemeanor.") See also California Penal Code 19 PC - Punishment for misdemeanor; punishment not otherwise prescribed.
54 California Penal Code 314 PC - Lewd or obscene conduct; indecent exposure; obscene exhibitions; punishment [related to prostitution/solicitation]. ("Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: 1. Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or, 2. Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor.")
55 CALJIC 16.220 - Indecent Exposure. (""Lewdly" means with specific intent to direct public attention to one's genitals for the purpose of one's own sexual arousal or gratification, or that of another, or of sexually insulting or offending others.")
56 See California Penal Code 261 PC - Rape defined.