10 Things You Didn’t Know About “Prostitution” Charges

California Penal Code Section 647(b)

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Definition of Prostitution

In California prostitution is defined as offering to, agreeing to, any lewd and or sexual act between persons for money or other consideration.  Other considerations can include goods or services such as drugs.1

How Does the Prosecutor Prove a Prostitution Charge?

 A person can be charged with prostitution under Section 647(b) for:

  • Soliciting prostitution, or
  • Agreeing to engage in prostitution, or
  • Engaging in prostitution.

To prove a defendant guilty under one of the three possible acts under 647(b), the prosecutor must have sufficient evidence to show that:

Soliciting Lewd Acts/Sexual Intercourse In Exchange For Money
  • Defendant requested from another to engage in an act of prostitution2
  • Defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with another person3
  • The other person received the communication containing the request
Agreement To Engage In Lewd Acts/Sexual Intercourse In Exchange For Money
  • Defendant agreed to engage in prostitution with another person4
  • Defendant intended to engage in prostitution with another person
  • Defendant did something to further the commission of an act of prostitution5
Engaging In lewd Acts/Sexual Intercourse In Exchange For Money
  • Defendant willfully engaged in sexual/lewd act for money.6
  • As defined, a sexual/lewd act includes: Purposely touching of body parts of another by either party for the purpose of sexual arousal.
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Who Can Be Charged with Prostitution

Anyone who offers prostitution to another person, agrees to prostitution, or engages in prostitution.

Example:

Lady posts an advertisement on an internet website stating that she will have sexual intercourse with men who call her at her posted phone number, at a rate of $100.00 per hour. John calls Lady and she gives him her address for him to come to her house and have sexual intercourse. John arrives at Lady’s home, he hands her an envelope of money and they both undress. Both Lady and John can be charged under California Penal Code section 647(b). Lady has both offered prostitution via her internet advertisement, and subsequent phone call arranging prostitution with John, but has also agreed to engage in prostitution with John. John has likewise agreed to prostitution with Lady by calling her, arriving at her home with an envelope of money, with the intent to have sexual intercourse with her, and undressing upon his arrival.

Example:       

Pimp arranges for Lady to meet John in a hotel room to have sexual intercourse, and John agrees to pay Lady $100.00 for her services. Pimp arranges the time for Lady and John to meet at a local hotel, and books Room 647 for the two of them. Lady and John both arrive at room 647 of the hotel, with the intent to have sex. Lady and John have sex and John pays her $100.  All three individuals can be charged under California Penal Code section 647(b); Pimp for arranging prostitution, as well as Lady and John for both agreeing and engaging in prostitution. Further, Pimp can additionally be charged under California Penal Code section 266 for pimping and pandering.

Legal Defenses

Based on the facts and circumstances surrounding your case, there can be various legal defenses that can be asserted on your behalf to fight a charge of prostitution under 647(b). Below, are some commonly used defenses:

Entrapment

The act of law enforcement officers or government agents inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead.  Entrapment is an effective legal defense if the commission or encouragement of the criminal act originated with the police or government agents, instead of with the “criminal.”7

Example:

The local police department organizes a “sting” operation to eliminate prostitution online. Officer Law calls a number that he finds on a popular website and speaks with Lady. Lady says that she does not want to arrange with Officer Law, but Officer Law insists and tells her that he would just like to set up a time to talk with her. Lady, again, says no. Officer Law, again, insists that he just thought that he found her beautiful in the picture she posted and would just like to take her out to dinner. Lady agrees, and they meet at a restaurant. The two go to dinner and then to a hotel, where Officer Law puts money on the dresser, asks to have sex, and Lady undresses.

From the start, Lady never agreed to have sex with Officer Law in exchange for money and did not arrive at the hotel with the intent to engage in prostitution with Officer Law. Instead, Officer Law created the criminal scenario despite Lady’s repeated attempts to withdraw from any criminal activity.

Lack Of Evidence

A diligent and conscientious prostitution defense attorney can show the prosecutor that they do not have enough evidence to convict the Defendant under the law of 647(b). This can be done with mitigating evidence or proof that not all elements of the crime were met by showing that the evidence submitted is either insufficient or insubstantial.

Immigration Consequences

If you are not a citizen, some criminal convictions under the penal code will result in mandatory immigration consequences.  A conviction under 647(b) does not impose mandatory immigration consequences. However, a charge under 647(b) may be considered either an aggravated felony and/or may be considered a crime of moral turpitude, for immigration purposes.

Aggravated Felony

This is a predetermined category of crimes that, include both misdemeanor and felony offenses, which can bar a noncitizen from utilizing many different forms of immigration benefits. If you are convicted of a crime that is automatically considered an aggravated felony, it will likely subject you to removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Here, a conviction under 647(b), depending on the circumstances, may be considered an aggravated felony.

Crime Of Moral Turpitude

This includes crimes which are considered to be objectively morally inexcusable, which includes both misdemeanor and felony offenses. Any offense which is “shocking to the conscious” of the average person can bar a noncitizen from utilizing many different forms of immigration benefits.  If you are convicted of a crime that is automatically considered a crime of moral turpitude, it will likely subject you to removal proceedings before an immigration judge. Here, a conviction under 647(b), depending on the circumstances, may be considered a crime of moral turpitude.

For a review of offenses categorized as “aggravated felonies” or “crimes of moral turpitude” under immigration law, click: http://www.ilrc.org/files/documents/ilrc-ca_chart__notes-2013-03_05.pdf.

Eligibilities

A charge under 647(b) is typically:

A charge under 647(b) typically:

Penalties

Although charges under 647(b) are misdemeanor in nature, however, the length of probation and custody time may vary based on prior offenses committed. All convictions under California Penal Code section 647(b) require that the defendant submit to AIDS testing and receive formal AIDS education. The following punishment, or combination of punishments, can be imposed under 647(b) for prostitution:

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PenaltyMisdemeanor
FinesNot to exceed $1,000
ProbationSummary probation
Jail0-180 days for first offense
Mandatory Aids TestingYes
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Related Offenses

Lewd Conduct – PC 647(a)

Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: (a) who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or in any place open to the public or exposed to public view.

Indecent Exposure- PC 314.

Every person who willfully and lewdly, either: (1) Exposes his person, or the private parts thereof, in any public place, or in any place where there are present other persons to be offended or annoyed thereby; or, (2) Procures, counsels, or assists any person so to expose himself or take part in any model artist exhibition, or to make any other exhibition of himself to public view, or the view of any number of persons, such as is offensive to decency, or is adapted to excite to vicious or lewd thoughts or acts, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

  Supervising or Aiding a Prostitute – PC 653.23

It is unlawful for any person to do either of the following :(1) Direct, supervise, recruit, or otherwise aid another person in the commission of a violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647 or subdivision (a) of Section 653.22. (2) Collect or receive all or part of the proceeds earned from an act or acts of prostitution committed by another person in violation of subdivision (b) of Section 647.

Loitering to Commit Prostitution – PC 653.22

It is unlawful for any person to loiter in any public place with the intent to commit prostitution. This intent is evidenced by acting in a manner and under circumstances which openly demonstrate the purpose of inducing, enticing, or soliciting prostitution, or procuring another to commit prostitution.

Human Trafficking – PC 236.1.            

Any person who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to obtain forced labor or services, is guilty of human trafficking and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 5, 8, or 12 years and a fine of not more than $500,000. (b) Any person who deprives or violates the personal liberty of another with the intent to effect or maintain a violation of Section 266, 266h, 266i, 266j, 267, 311.1, 311.2, 311.3, 311.4, 311.5, 311.6, or 518 is guilty of human trafficking and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for 8, 14, or 20 years and a fine of not more than $500,000.

How We Can Help

With the knowledge and expertise of the Aizman Law Firm on your side, a Los Angeles prostitution attorney can help to broker a charge reduction to a lesser offense in your case, eliminate any required custody as a part of your sentence, or strategically develop valid legal defenses to attempt to garner a dismissal, or reduction of the charges.

Contact us at 818-351-9555 for a free Consultation.

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Footnotes

  1. Except as provided in subdivision (l), every person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: (b) Who solicits or who agrees to engage in or who engages in any act of prostitution. A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution. No agreement to engage in an act of prostitution shall constitute a violation of this subdivision unless some act, in addition to the agreement, is done within this state in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act. As used in this subdivision, “prostitution” includes any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration. []
  2.  CALCRIM 1154, California Penal Code section 647(b), Wooten v. Superior Court (2001) 93 Cal. App. 4th 422 [113 Cal. Rptr. 2d 195] []
  3. Id. []
  4. CAL CRIM 1155, California Penal Code section 647(b), Wooten v. Superior Court (2001) 93 Cal. App. 4th 422 [113 Cal. Rptr. 2d 195] []
  5. Id. []
  6. CAL CRIM 1153, California Penal Code section 647(b), California Penal Code section 7(1), Wooten v. Superior Court (2001) 93 Cal. App. 4th 422 [113 Cal. Rptr. 2d 195] []
  7. Id. []