Prostitution Charges & Laws In California

Under California law prostitution is a violation of California Penal Code section 647(b). The act of prostitution involves two or more parties, the person(s) soliciting the prostitute and the prostitute. As such, the law criminalizes both the act of solicitation and the act of prostitution. Additionally it is a criminal offense under California law to loiter with the intent of committing an act of prostitution.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of soliciting a prostitute the People must prove that:
1. The defendant requested that another person engage in an act of prostitution;
2. The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person;
3. The other person received the communication containing the request.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution the People must prove that:
1. The defendant delayed or lingered in a public place;
2. When the defendant did so, he or she did not have a lawful purpose for being there;
3. When the defendant did so, he or she intended to commit prostitution.
To prove that the defendant is guilty of the crime of engaging in prostitution the People must prove that:
1. The defendant agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with someone else;
2. The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person;
3. In addition to agreeing, the defendant did something to further the commission of an act of prostitution.

The legal definition of prostitution under California law encompasses a wide range of conduct. The act of prostitution is sexual intercourse or a lewd act involving touching the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person’s body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of either person. This lewd act committed in exchange for money or something else of value.
Defenses to prostitution can involve challenging the intent of the person soliciting. In this case, the defendant must have displayed a clear intent to summon a prostitute to negotiate an exchange of a lewd act for something of value. In this type of situation, a person alleged to have been soliciting a prostitute must have intended that the communication reach its target. For the person engaging an act of prostitution, intent may also be challenged by the Defense. The Defendant may present evidence that refutes that he or she demonstrated the intent to induce, entice, or solicit prostitution or to procure someone else to commit prostitution.

If a person who may normally engage in prostitution, but is not doing so at the time, and is solicited for services and declines, this cannot be viewed as the requisite intent to support a conviction for prostitution.

The Defendant must knowingly act with the intent to engage in the conduct of prostitution at that particular time. Mere status of reputation is not sufficient to convict. However, an alleged prostitute may be convicted of loitering with intent to engage in prostitution if one is aimlessly waiting in an area with the intent of receiving a solicitation. However, a good defense Counsel knows how to attack poorly drafted and vague anti-loitering laws which may be unconstitutional.

Prostitution, solicitation and loitering with the intent to engage in prostitution are misdemeanors, punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.  However, with the new enlightened anti-Sex trafficking sentiments, our criminal defense lawyers have been able to get prostitution cases dismissed and diverted into alternatives to jail sentences even for second offenses!  WE are not afraid to delve into a defendant’s  medical and family history to develop the most effective defense under the law.

Unfortunately,  California law contains provisions that enhance the penalties for repeat offenders. If convicted for a second prostitution or solicitation offense, the Defendant may be sentenced to a minimum of forty-five (45) days in a county jail. A third prostitution or solicitation conviction offense, the judge must order a minimum of ninety (90) days in a county jail. Again, we have worked well with Victim Advocates, the Sonoma County Family Justice Center and other women’s agencies such as Crossing the Jordan and Veritas to persuade the District Attorney to dismiss  charges or even reduce repeat offenders charges!

Given the high risk involved with a prostitution charge, it is important to seek experienced counsel if you are the subject of an investigation or are detained by law enforcement. Regardless of whether or not the case proceeds to trial, the seriousness of a California prostitution charge requires the assistance of a skilled and committed California criminal lawyer who knows every legal argument when defending clients.

If you have been arrested for the crime of prostitution anywhere in the North Bay of California, contact Fiumara & Milligan Law, PC as soon as possible to protect your legal rights.

We have two conveniently located offices in Santa Rosa and San Rafael.
You can call us directly at 707-571-8600 OR 415-492-4507 for a free confidential consultation on your case.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain, so call us today!

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