In California, engaging in prostitution, as well as soliciting prostitution, is illegal. This is true even if the acts of prostitution were engaged in willfully and consent was present. Being charged with prostitution can have major consequences, including jail time and steep fines. For this reason, seeking legal counsel can be extraordinarily valuable.
At SLM Law, we defend and advocate for individuals who are facing prostitution charges. As fearless litigators with a thorough understanding of the California legislation and case law, we are well-equipped to help your case. For more information or to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, consider calling us at (310) 443-4119 today.
What is Prostitution?
Under Chapter 2 Section 647 of the California Penal Code it is illegal for someone to engage in, or solicit, prostitution. Prostitution, as defined under this legislation, occurs when a person solicits or agrees to engage in sexual conduct with another in exchange for compensation, money, or anything of value. Therefore, it is illegal to engage in any of the follow activities:
- Participating in a sex act in exchange for money or something else of value
- Agreeing to participate in a sex act for money or something else of value
- Seeking sex in exchange for money or something else of value
In California vs. Campbell, the California courts noted that sexual conduct may include lewd acts where the genitals, buttocks, or female breasts (either of the prostitute or the customer) come into contact with some body part for sexual arousal or gratification of the customer of prostitute.
It should also be noted that a sex act in exchange for money or something or value is still illegal even if both parties willfully engaged in the activity. There does not need to be specific intent to break the law. So long as sex acts were exchanged for money or anything else of value, illegal prostitution has occurred.
What Does it Mean to Solicit Prostitution?
A person solicits prostitution when they actively request that another individual engage in an act of prostitution. For a defendant to be found guilty of soliciting prostitution, it must be proven that they had a clear intention to seek out sexual acts in exchange for money. The following actions are not sufficient to be found guilty of soliciting prostitution:
- Being present in an area where prostitution commonly occurs
- Waving to a passing vehicle
- Nodding to a stranger
- Standing on a street corner in a dress or skirt
Navigating this grey area of the law can be complicated, as soliciting prostitution can be difficult to prove. If you are being charged with soliciting prostitution, there may be legal defenses available to protect you. Consider contacting SLM Law to discuss these matters in greater detail and understand how we can help your case.
What Are the Penalties for Prostitution in California?
Any person who is found guilty of prostitution in California will face a misdemeanor charge. While the penalties associated with a misdemeanor are much less severe than those associated with a felony, there are still sizable consequences. The crime of prostitution is punishable by:
- Up to six months of jail time
- Up to a $1,000 fine
It should be noted that the penalties are the same for both the customer as well as the prostitute. Moreover, second and third offenses result in automatic jail time, ranging from 45 days to 90 days.
Legal Defenses for Prostitution Charges
In prostitution cases, for defendants accused of either engaging in or soliciting acts, there are legal defenses available to challenge allegations. Some of the most common legal defenses for prostitution charges include:
- Insufficient evidence: the prosecutor only has partial evidence needed to make a conviction, meaning that a jury will have reasonable doubt as to whether or not the defendant committed the crime.
- Entrapment: the police used some form of overbearing conduct to trick a person into committing the crime of prostitution.
- Falsely accused: false accusations are relatively commonplace and can be argued in a court to drop a prostitution charge.
These are merely a few examples of common legal defenses that are available to defendants accused of prostitution. This list is far from comprehensive, however, and depending on the unique circumstances of a case, many more strategies may be available.
Criminal Defense Attorneys at SLM Can Help
At SLM Law, our job is to protect the rights of individuals accused of criminal prostitution. We understand that being charged with a crime can be incredibly overwhelming and we work to reduce that stress. If you were accused of prostitution, there are legal strategies that can help you reduce or eliminate the charges. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, consider contacting SLM Law at (310) 443-4119. Our team is ready and willing to help you overcome prostitution charges and ensure that you are protected under the law.