Despite the fact that some people view prostitution as a victimless crime or a legitimate way to earn a living, California law expressly prohibits it.
Penal Code section 647(b) states that anyone "who solicits or who agrees to engage in or who engages in any act of prostitution is guilty of disorderly conduct."
The statute defines prostitution as providing sexual acts to another person in exchange for money, goods, or other services. The act need not be sexual intercourse to be charged with prostitution. Penal Code section 647(b) also covers any lewd act, defined as touching the genitals or buttocks of either gender and the breasts of a female for the purpose of sexual arousal.
To prove a person guilty of prostitution, the District Attorney must prove that the defendant willfully engaged in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with someone else in exchange for money, goods or other compensation. Someone commits an act willfully when he or she does it willingly or on purpose.
Solicitation of Prostitution
It is a crime to solicit someone else to engage in sexual acts for money or other considerations. The District Attorney must prove that the person intended to elicit, lure, or incite another person to engage in prostitution. This means that the customer, commonly referred to as a 'John,' faces arrest as well as anyone who set up the transaction between the prostitute and customer, often known as the 'pimp.'
The person accused of solicitation must specifically intend to follow through with paying a prostitute for an act of prostitution. Therefore, just standing on a street corner or waving to a car driven by a known prostitute is insufficient evidence for this charge.
Possible Penalties for PC 647(b)
Both prostitution and solicitation are misdemeanors offenses, but that doesn't mean that they don't have serious consequences. A conviction for prostitution or solicitation means up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Fortunately, there are many defenses to both charges. Two of the most common ones are entrapment and lack of sufficient evidence.
Defend Yourself Against These Charges
Even a misdemeanor conviction can damage your reputation and threaten your freedom. It is crucial to obtain legal representation as soon as you are charged with either of these sex crimes. Contact us at the Law Offices of Tarman & Shamuilian to schedule your free case evaluation as soon as possible.