Prostitution or solicitation of prostitution is considered a form of disorderly conduct under California Penal Code 647(b). This includes individuals who solicit, engage in, or agree to engage in any form of prostitution. Prostitution is considered any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration, such as drugs.
Generally, a solicitation charge requires some act in addition to the agreement to engage in prostitution. This is some act that is done in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution. The act does not have to include actually going through with the lewd act. Only some action in furtherance of the act is required. For example, the actin furtherance could include: traveling to an agreed-upon location to engage in sex, giving money or other compensation to another, or starting to take off one’s clothing.
There are many misconceptions about the crime of prostitution. Prostitution can include any lewd act, not just sex or oral sex. This could include touching someone’s genitals, buttocks, or a woman’s breasts. For example, a customer at a strip club could give a dancer an additional tip in order to touch the dancer’s breasts. This may be considered prostitution as a lewd act between persons for money.
Additionally, both the customer and provider of the lewd act can both be arrested for prostitution. For example, if a masseuse at a massage parlor offers to touch the customer’s genitals in exchange for a tip, the masseuse may be charged with prostitution. If the customer agrees, then the customer may also be charged because they agreed to engage in prostitution.
People also have a misconception about undercover police activity involving prostitution. A person who agrees to engage in an act of prostitution may be charged regardless of whether the offer was made by a police officer who never had the intent to engage in prostitution. Similarly, after an undercover police officer solicits prostitution, an individual who agrees can be arrested even if the officer did not intend to engage in the act. Also, contrary to popular belief, a police officer does not have to tell you that he or she is indeed a police officer.
Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor offense and a conviction can result in jail time of up to six (6) months, or a fine of up to $1,000, or by both jail time and the fine.
In addition to criminal penalties, many individuals arrested for solicitation face embarrassment and humiliation. Many police departments publicly release mug shots after an undercover prostitution sting to shame those who were arrested. The police may publicize the faces of people arrested even if they are ultimately not convicted of the alleged crime. They can have serious impacts on an individual’s social, professional, and family life.
In addition, if probation is granted, the defendant may still be required to serve some jail time and may be subjected to a probationary period. Oftentimes, as a condition of probation, you can also be required to attend an AIDS Education class and take an AIDS test (the results of which are confidentially sealed).
A conviction for solicitation can also have a negative impact on any non-citizens in the U.S. As it stands, solicitation of prostitution under penal code 647(b) may be considered a crime involving moral turpitude. What this means is that a conviction can possibly result in deportation, denial of naturalization, or denial of reentry in the United States by non-citizens.
There are many legal defenses to solicitation of prostitution charges. This includes arguing the individual did not have the intent to engage in prostitution, the individuals did not engage in lewd acts for compensation, or entrapment. Many individuals are approached by undercover police officers and nudged toward agreeing to an act of soliciting prostitution. However, it is difficult in some cases to prove that any additional act in furtherance (beyond just a general agreement) was ever made.
Before you give up your rights and plead guilty, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Your attorney will investigate your case, identify your strongest defenses, fight to keep you out of jail, and keep a prostitution charge off your record.