Prostitution is a crime of sexual misconduct and while the criminal penalties associated with a California prostitution conviction are not as severe as other sex crimes, the consequences of having any sex crimes conviction on your criminal record can make your life extremely difficult. You could have a hard time finding housing or gainful employment, and you could also be restricted in your ability to work in certain fields, especially in fields involving children. You could even lose your child custody and/or visitation rights if the court decides you are an unfit parent. If you have been arrested for prostitution or a prostitution-related crime, like solicitation, don’t hesitate to secure qualified legal representation. Our prostitution defense lawyers at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles can help you defend your rights and minimize the consequences of your arrest. Call our law firm today at (213) 205-3100.
Affordable Prostitution Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
Many people arrested for prostitution in Los Angeles fall victim to undercover “sting” operations, where a police officer pretends to be a prostitute in an attempt to trick someone into soliciting him or her. This is only one example of a situation in which a prostitution arrest can be made, but whatever the circumstances of your arrest, a criminal defense attorney with experience defending clients against prostitution charges can help you fight the charges. If you have been accused of prostitution in Los Angeles, or another prostitution-related crime, like pimping or pandering, you will need a criminal defense attorney on your side who knows what defense strategies are most effective in sex crimes cases. Our legal team at Criminal Defense Attorney Los Angeles has extensive experience defending the rights of clients charged with prostitution and solicitation and can help you find the best approach to fight the criminal charges against you. We will thoroughly investigate every aspect of your alleged crime and find weaknesses in the prosecution’s case that can be used to negotiate the best possible outcome for you.
“Prostitution” is a broad term referring to the act of having sex with another person in exchange for compensation, and in California, you can face criminal charges for prostitution or solicitation of prostitution, two different, but related, offenses. Pursuant to California Penal Code § 647(b), you can be arrested for – and convicted of – prostitution in Los Angeles if you:
- Engage in the act of prostitution;
- Solicit another person to engage in prostitution; and/or
- Agree to engage in the act of prostitution.
Money doesn’t even have to exchange hands for prostitution to be charged. “Compensation” for sexual acts under California law can include anything of value, including drugs, important documents or even stolen merchandise. And it is important to note that you can be arrested for prostitution even if the sexual act never occurs. Simply agreeing to engage in prostitution or soliciting another person to engage in prostitution may constitute a sex crime in violation of Penal Code § 647(b).
California Penal Code § 647(b) applies to both prostitutes and their customers, and one example of a crime constituting prostitution or solicitation in California would be if a police officer accepts a woman’s offer to have sex in exchange for not writing her a speeding ticket. Some other criminal offenses related to Penal Code § 647(b) prostitution include Penal Code § 266h PC pimping, Penal Code § 266i PC pandering, Penal Code § 647(a) PC lewd conduct in public, Penal Code § 653.22 PC loitering to commit prostitution, and Penal Code § 653.23 PC assisting or supervising a prostitute.
Conviction for Prostitution Penal Code § 647(b)
Prostitution is a serious crime in Los Angeles and being arrested for prostitution or solicitation may seem like the end of the world. However, just because you have been arrested for a crime doesn’t automatically mean you will be convicted. The prosecutor handling your case has the burden of proving every element of your alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt. This means that, in order to be convicted of prostitution, the prosecution must provide irrefutable evidence that you:
- Agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with another person;
- Intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person; and
- Did something to further the commission of the act of prostitution.
In order to be convicted of solicitation, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You requested or suggested that another person engage in an act of prostitution;
- You intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person; and
- The other person received the communication containing the request.
How is Prostitution Different from Solicitation?
Prostitution is defined as the act of exchanging sexual acts for money or other items of value, while solicitation is the act of offering money in exchange for sexual acts, whether or not the act is actually performed. You can face charges of prostitution in Los Angeles if you are the prostitute receiving money or other compensation for sex; the “John” paying a prostitute for sex; or the “pimp” arranging a sexual encounter between a prostitute and a “John.” Even though the offenses defined in Penal Code § 247(b) PC – engaging in the act of prostitution, agreeing to engage in the act of prostitution, and/or soliciting another person to engage in prostitution – are separate under the law, they are related and they all have the same basic elements. Generally speaking, the prosecutor assigned to your case will be required to prove that you participated in some way in an agreement to exchange sex for compensation in order to convict you of prostitution.
Penalties for a Prostitution Conviction
Under California Penal Code Penal Code § 647(b), a first-time prostitution offense typically results in misdemeanor charges punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or up to $1,000 in fines. However, prostitution is considered a “priorable” offense, which means if you have prior convictions for prostitution, the penalties you can face for a subsequent charge will be more severe. For example, a second conviction for prostitution in Los Angeles carries a minimum county jail sentence of 45 days, and a third conviction carries a minimum sentence of 90 days, both of which are in addition to the penalties imposed on first-time offenders.
There is no mandatory sex offender registration requirement for prostitution or solicitation crimes in Los Angeles, but the judge overseeing a prostitution case does have the option of ordering a defendant to register with the state of California as a sex offender if his or her offense is “the result of sexual compulsion or for purposes of sexual gratification.” Any additional criminal penalties potentially associated with Los Angeles prostitution charges depend a great deal on the circumstances of the case. For instance, if you commit the crime of prostitution in a vehicle within 1,000 feet of a California residence, enhanced penalties could include restriction or suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months or up to 30 days, respectively. Prostitution charges can also result in serious collateral consequences for your family, your immigration status and your future employment opportunities.
Defenses to Prostitution Charges
It is your Constitutional right when facing criminal charges to assert any legal defense that may explain, excuse or justify your alleged behavior, and with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney on your side, you may be able to get your criminal charges dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense and avoid the social stigma that accompanies prostitution and solicitation charges. Fortunately for you, prostitution can be a difficult crime to prove, and there are many defense strategies a skilled criminal defense attorney can use to fight Los Angeles prostitution charges, including the following:
- Insufficient evidence
- Unreliable witnesses
- Lack of knowledge
- No compensation changed hands
- No agreement was made
- Lack of intent
Hiring an Aggressive Prostitution Defense Attorney in Los Angeles
A California prostitution conviction can result not only in jail time, fines and other criminal consequences, but also in personal and professional consequences that can affect every part of your life, which means your future and your freedom are at stake. In some cases, defendants convicted of prostitution, whether they are guilty or not, may be added to the California sex offender registry, which means being forever branded a sexual offender. Needless to say, a prostitution conviction can have a negative impact on the rest of your life and hiring an attorney immediately following your arrest can significantly improve your chances of achieving a favorable outcome in your case. A good prostitution defense attorney is intimately familiar with the California criminal justice system and understands what defense strategies are most effective in fighting prostitution or solicitation charges. Contact our knowledgeable Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys today at (213) 205-3100 to discuss how best to approach defending yourself against prostitution charges in California.