Penal Code 653f PC makes it a crime to solicit another person to commit certain criminal offenses (such as robbery, grand theft or forgery). To solicit means to communicate a request that the person commit a crime, with the intent that the crime be committed.
A violation of this code section can result in felony charges punishable by years in state prison.
We will quote the full text of the statute, and then provide legal analysis below. The code section states that:
653f. (a) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to offer, accept, or join in the offer or acceptance of a bribe, or to commit or join in the commission of carjacking, robbery, burglary, grand theft, receiving stolen property, extortion, perjury, subornation of perjury, forgery, kidnapping, arson or assault with a deadly weapon or instrument or by means of force likely to produce great bodily injury, or, by the use of force or a threat of force, to prevent or dissuade any person who is or may become a witness from attending upon, or testifying at, any trial, proceeding, or inquiry authorized by law, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170, or by a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or the amount which could have been assessed for commission of the offense itself, whichever is greater, or by both the fine and imprisonment.
(b) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit or join in the commission of murder shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or nine years.
(c) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit rape by force or violence, sodomy by force or violence, oral copulation by force or violence, or any violation of Section 264.1, 288, or 289, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for two, three, or four years.
(d) (1) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit an offense specified in Section 11352, 11379, 11379.5, 11379.6, or 11391 of the Health and Safety Code shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding six months. Every person who, having been convicted of soliciting another to commit an offense specified in this subdivision, is subsequently convicted of the proscribed solicitation, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(2) This subdivision does not apply where the term of imprisonment imposed under other provisions of law would result in a longer term of imprisonment.
(e) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit an offense specified in Section 14014 of the Welfare and Institutions Code shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not exceeding six months. Every person who, having been convicted of soliciting another to commit an offense specified in this subdivision, is subsequently convicted of the proscribed solicitation, shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year, or pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
(f) (1) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, solicits another to commit an offense set forth in Section 502 shall be punished as set forth in paragraph (3).
(2) Every person who, with the intent that the crime be committed, offers to solicit assistance for another to conduct activities in violation of Section 502 shall be punished as set forth in paragraph (3). This includes persons operating Internet Web sites that offer to assist others in locating hacking services. For the purposes of this section “hacking services” means assistance in the unauthorized access to computers, computer systems, or data in violation of Section 502.
(3) Every person who violates this subdivision shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail for a period not to exceed six months. Every subsequent violation of this subdivision by that same person shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding one year.
(g) An offense charged in violation of subdivision (a), (b), or (c) shall be proven by the testimony of two witnesses, or of one witness and corroborating circumstances. An offense charged in violation of subdivision (d), (e), or (f) shall be proven by the testimony of one witness and corroborating circumstances.
(h) Nothing in this section precludes prosecution under any other law that provides for a greater punishment.
- asking a witness to lie while testifying at trial.
- texting a friend and requesting that he take part in robbing a convenient store.
- calling a boyfriend and asking for help in picking up stolen goods.
Criminal defense attorneys draw upon several legal defense strategies to help defendants challenge solicitation charges. A few common ones include showing that:
- there was no intent to commit a crime,
- a solicitation was never received, and/or
- the defendant was entrapped.
A violation of California Penal Code Section 653f can lead to either misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on the crime the defendant asked someone to commit. A PC 653f conviction can lead to:
- time in county jail or state prison, and/or
- a significant fine.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:
- 1. How does California law define “solicitation to commit a crime”?
- 2. Are there legal defenses to 653f PC charges?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Are there related offenses?
1. How does California law define “solicitation to commit a crime”?
A prosecutor has to prove the following elements of the crime to successfully convict a person of soliciting a crime:
- the accused asked another person to commit a crime listed under PC 653f,
- the accused intended to commit that crime, and
- the other person received the communication containing the request to commit a crime.1
As to the first element above, the crimes covered by PC 653f are:
- grand theft,
- receiving stolen property,
- assault with a deadly weapon,
- dissuading a witness,
- major California sex crimes committed by force or violence (including rape, sodomy, oral copulation, and penetration with a foreign object),
- sale or transportation of a controlled substance, and
- medi-Cal fraud under Welfare Code 14014.2
The phrase “to solicit a crime” means to:
- make petition to,
- plead for,
- try to obtain, or
- offer or invite another to commit a crime.3
Note that it is not necessary that the person being solicited to commit a crime actually commit the offense, or even agree to commit the crime. Further, a person is guilty of solicitation even if the person being solicited rejects the solicitation.4
Example: Andrea is being charged with Penal Code 211 PC robbery.
She asks her boyfriend Pete to appear as a witness in her trial and claim that she was with him on the night of the robbery, even though she actually was not.
Pete thinks it over and decides that he is too afraid of being charged with Penal Code 118 PC perjury. So, he tells Andrea no.
Andrea is still guilty of soliciting Pete to commit perjury even though he rejected her solicitation.
For more discussion, see our article on soliciting laws in California.
2. Are there legal defenses to 653f PC charges?
Defendants can challenge criminal charges under this code section with a legal defense. Three common defenses in criminal solicitation cases include the accused showing that:
- he/she did not intend to commit the solicited crime.
- no one received the solicitation.
- he/she was entrapped.
2.1. No intent to commit a crime
Recall that a person is only guilty of the crime of solicitation if the party intends to commit the crime that he/she asked another person to commit. A defense, then, is for a defendant to say that he/she never intended to commit a crime. For example, maybe an accused requested that someone perform a criminal act as a joke.
2.2. No receipt of a solicitation
A person is not guilty of soliciting someone to commit a crime unless that person actually receives the communication requesting that he/she commit a crime. If the communication is in the form of a letter, an email, or a verbal request sent through a third person, and it never reaches the intended recipient, then a defendant is not guilty under Penal Code 653f.5
Entrapment is often used as a defense when a defendant is charged following an undercover sting. The defense asserts that the police used some type of overbearing conduct to trick a person into committing a crime. The defense works so long as the accused shows that he/she only committed an offense, here solicitation, because of the undercover officer’s conduct or entrapment.
3. What are the penalties?
The penalties for soliciting someone to commit a crime depend on which crime the defendant is alleged to have asked someone to commit.
For example, solicitation of the sale or transportation of a controlled substance is a California misdemeanor. The potential penalties are:
- custody in county jail for up to six months, and/or
- a fine of up to $1,000.6
The solicitation of forcible sex crimes is a California felony. The potential penalties are:
- up to four years in state prison, and/or
- a fine of up to $10,000.
Furthermore, people convicted of soliciting someone to commit a sex crime have a lifetime duty to register as a tier-three sex offender.7
The solicitation of murder is a felony punishable by:
- custody in prison for up to nine years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.8
For all other crimes covered by this law, solicitation is a wobbler offense. A wobbler is a crime that a district attorney can charge as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Misdemeanor penalties are punishable by up to one year in jail.
- Felony convictions are punishable by a jail term of up to three years.9
4. Are there related offenses?
There are three offenses related to the crime of solicitation. These are:
- aiding and abetting – PC 31,
- conspiracy – PC 182, and
- accessory after the fact – PC 32.
4.1. Aiding and abetting – PC 31
Per Penal Code 31, aiding and abetting is the crime where people encourage, facilitate, or aid in the commission of a criminal act.
While Penal Code 653f criminalizes asking someone to commit a crime, this statute focuses on when a party helps another in the commission of the crime.
4.2. Conspiracy – PC 182
Per Penal Code 182, conspiracy is the crime where:
- a person agrees with one or more other persons to commit a crime, and
- one of the parties commits an act to further that agreement.
As with some crimes under PC 653f, some offenses charged under this law are wobblers that can lead to either misdemeanor or felony charges.
4.3. Accessory after the fact – PC 32
Under California Penal Code 32, accessory after the fact is the crime where people knowingly harbor, conceal, or aid a felon in order to protect the felon from arrest, trial, conviction, or sentencing.
Recall that people are only guilty of solicitation if they intend to commit the crime solicited. Similarly, people are only guilty under this code section if they act knowingly.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense lawyer, we invite you to contact our law firm at the Shouse Law Group. Our attorneys provide both free consultations and legal advice you can trust.
Our lawyers also represent clients throughout California, including those in Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange County, and San Bernardino.
- California Penal Code 653f PC. See also CALCRIM No. 441 – Solicitation, Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2020 edition); and, People v. Nelson (2015), 240 Cal.App.4th 488.
- California Penal Code 653f PC.
- People v. Gordon (1975), 47 Cal.App.3d 465. See also People v. Sanchez (1998), 60 Cal.App.4th 1490; and, People v. Herman (2002) 97 Cal.App.4th 1369.
- CALCRIM No. 441 – Solicitation.
- People v. Saephanh (2000), 80 Cal.App.4th 451.
- California Penal Code 653f PC.
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