Don’t underestimate the severity of a prostitution and solicitation charge. If you have a sex crime allegation, a lot is at stake. A conviction could restrict your employment and education opportunities, reputation and affect your freedom and life. At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we understand that your life will never be the same and can protect your constitutional rights. Our goal is to stand with you throughout the criminal justice system. We can work aggressively to realize the best possible case outcome.
Defining Prostitution or Solicitation in Pasadena, California
Per California Penal Code Section 647(b), prostitution is exchanging money or any consideration (it can be services or goods) for lewd conduct or sex. However, the offense can be complete regardless of whether the proposed act occurred or not.
The section makes it illegal to:
- Participate in prostitution
- Solicit prostitution
- Agree to participate in prostitution
The specific conduct filled determines the facts of the offense the prosecutor should establish in court.
Here is an overview of the mentioned above situations.
Engaging in Prostitution
As previously mentioned, an individual participates in prostitution when they willfully participate in lewd conduct or sex with another individual in return for compensation or money.
The legal term “willfully” implies that the accused participated in the conduct on purpose or willingly. It doesn’t necessarily require the intent to violate any law.
Lewd conduct is an act that involves touching another’s buttocks, breast (if female), or genitals with the intent to gratify or arouse a person sexually.
Soliciting for Prostitution
You solicit prostitution when you:
- Request somebody else to participate in prostitution,
- Intending to violate the prostitution law with that person.
Hinging on who started the interaction, the prosecution can file the crime against the client or the prostitute.
The Prosecutor Must Prove the Intent
For you to be convicted of solicitation, you should have planned to participate in prostitution. Typically, a proposal to compensate with drugs or money in return for sex proves the intent.
Nevertheless, it isn’t compulsory that the other person had a similar intent. For instance, a person can still be accused of solicitation even when:
- The individual solicited wasn’t a prostitute.
- The solicited prostitute did not approve the suggested transaction.
- The prostitute was the undercover police officer
The Solicitation Intent Should be Clear
While some acts might seem wrong, they can be innocent and cannot be used to establish the intention to solicit a prostitute. Perfect examples of the behaviors include:
- Being in an area known for prostitution
- Nodding to strangers
- Standing in the street in a short dress or tank top at night
- Waving to passing cars
Agreeing to Get Involved in Prostitution
You can break the prostitution and solicitation law by consenting to participate in prostitution conduct when you mean to commit it. To establish it, the prosecutor should prove that:
- You agreed to participate in prostitution with another individual
- You planned to participate in prostitution with the individual
- On top of agreeing, you went ahead to ensure you committed the crime in question
More than the verbal offers are needed to be deemed to have accepted the solicitation. It can be:
- Going to the area where sex will occur
- Asking the person who has agreed to the solicitation to strip
- Withdrawing money to compensate the prostitute
Minors Below Eighteen
Following Senate Bill SB 1322 passage by Governor Jerry Brown in 2016, a minor can’t be charged with prostitution. A minor who commits prostitution is deemed a commercial sexually exploited minor.
The court won’t take the minor to jail or juvenile hall. Instead, they will become a ward of the juvenile court, and the judge will place your child for a maximum of fifteen days in an emergency shelter or with your family member.
Is Prostitution the Same as Solicitation?
It is worth noting that solicitation and prostitution are different crimes. For prostitution to happen, an individual should deliberately engage in sex with another in return for compensation, including drugs and food or money. On the contrary, solicitation is the request to engage in sexual behavior, notwithstanding whether the accused receives or gives money or compensation.
The variation lies in whether the conduct happened. Prostitution does not occur unless sex takes place, while solicitation could take place without sex.
PC 647(b) makes both prostitution and solicitation a crime. Both sellers and buyers of the illegal conduct can be convicted of either solicitation or prostitution, or both.
Penalties, Consequences, and Sentencing for Violating Penal Code Section 647(b)
Violation of prostitution and solicitation law is a California misdemeanor. The penalties imposed depend mainly on whether the crime occurred and whether it was your first time or subsequent crime.
First-time Offense Penalties
A first-time crime is punishable by a maximum of one thousand dollars in fines and a six-month jail sentence.
Penal Code Section 647(b) PC is a priorable offense, and penalties increase with all subsequent convictions. A second-time offense attracts a compulsory forty-five-day jail sentence. On the other hand, a third crime carries at least ninety days in county jail.
In a Motor Vehicle in a Residential Zone
Penal Code Section 647(b) PC penalties enhance if you committed the offense while in an automotive and within one thousand feet of the residential area.
On top of imposing fines and jail sentence, the judge might:
- Issue you a restricted driver’s license for six months, or
- Suspend your driver’s license for thirty days.
A restricted driver’s license permits you to go to school or work. Moreover, it allows operating a vehicle for work if driving the vehicle is part of your employment job description.
Extra Punishment by the Local Jurisdictions
The local government might impose additional punishment for prostitution or solicitation. For instance, the local government might seize and forfeit your car if convicted of prostitution while in the vehicle. This form of asset forfeiture is alongside other penalties.
Sex Offender Registration
Both solicitation and prostitution do not require compulsory sex offender registration per PC 290. Nevertheless, the court might order registration if the crime was for sexual satisfaction or an outcome of sexual coercion.
Fighting a Penal Code Section 647(b) Charge
While the penalties for prostitution and solicitation charges are severe, your criminal defense attorney could use any of the following legal defenses.
Absence of Credible Evidence
Lack of credible evidence is one of the most effective defenses to this crime, mainly when the agreement to participate in prostitution wasn’t recorded.
It raises a red flag for the jury members. If the police officer was wired, why didn’t they record their conversation? What could the officer be hiding?
If the jurors cannot hear the conversation, they will be hesitant to establish your guilt beyond any reasonable doubt.
Absence of Intent/ Mistake of Fact
Finding an individual guilty of PC 647(b) necessitates that the prosecutor establishes that the defendant purposed to commit the crime. In other words, if you unknowingly or unwittingly exchanged goods for sexual conduct, then the prosecution can’t prove your intention.
For example, you might offer to help a friend facing a challenging situation, and the friend confusingly thinks it’s a sex offer.
Whether it is a matter of wrong place, time, or person, your criminal defense lawyer could establish that you aren’t the individual who will be found guilty of the crime. It can be used alongside the mistake of fact defense or even stand on its own liable mainly on the case circumstances.
Insufficient evidence is different from incredible evidence. In this case, while the available proof could be trustworthy, it could be what the prosecutor should establish.
Entrapment happens when a law enforcer engages in behavior that could make a law-abiding citizen violate the law. It goes beyond giving a person the chance to commit the offense.
Depending on case circumstances, acts that can be considered entrapment include:
- Coaxing or flattery
- Insistent and repeated requests
- Appeals of sympathy or friendship
- Offers of extraordinary benefits
- An assurance that the conduct will not be detected or is legal
Generally, this legal defense applies when the accused is involved in undercover sting operations. The decoy police office pretends to be a prospective client or prostitute. Then the police officer tries enticing the suspect by making offers for prostitution.
Regrettably, most law enforcers cross the line into entrapment and lure citizens into enticements, promises, and unfair flattery.
Entrapment in California is an affirmative legal defense. After the accused urges that the undercover police officer entrapped them, they must establish it by a preponderance of the evidence. It means the police officer was most likely involved in entrapment. Should you successfully prove it, you cannot be convicted.
Prostitution diversion is now available in many jurisdictions in California. Instead of entering a plea of no contest or guilty to the prostitution or solicitation charges, the accused persons will enter the diversion program for a day. The program consists of an educational class and submitting to an HIV test.
Upon conclusion of the program without any other arrest record for a year, your case will be dismissed. You can honestly answer that you have never been sentenced for the offense. That is good news for most defendants when seeking educational, housing, and employment opportunities.
Unfortunately, the prosecutor can impound the vehicle used in connection with the crime under VC 22659.5. Accused johns could have their motor vehicles seized for thirty days.
While you can appeal, the process is time-consuming and expensive.
It is not uncommon for prostitution cases to originate from massage parlor situations where a prospect of a vast tip entices masseuse to get involved in sex for money. Most of these defendants are non-citizens. For a non-immigrant, the prostitution diversion program could be disturbing. Pleading guilty to the crime could result in severe immigration consequences.
A PC 647(b) conviction could damage both your professional or personal life. If the prosecutor is hesitant to dismiss your charge or offer prostitution diversion, and if the jury trial isn’t the best move, your criminal defense attorney could fight for reduced charges.
Common reduced crimes to prostitution and solicitation charge include disturbing the peace (PC 415), lewd conduct in public (PC 647a), and criminal trespass (PC 602). These charges are either an infraction or a misdemeanor. They also help an accused person to prevent the stigma that comes with a prostitution and solicitation conviction.
Discussed below are crimes that prosecuted in place of or alongside prostitution and solicitation:
Pimping and Pandering
Under Penal Code 266h, pimping is deliberately living in part or whole of prostitute pay. It does not necessarily have to take in some of the prostitute’s salary in return for finding clients for them.
Per Penal Code Section 266i, pandering is either:
- Making an individual available for prostitution, or
- Encouraging or recruiting a person to remain or become a prostitute.
These crimes are felonies. A defendant risks spending three, four, or six years in state prison.
Aiding or Supervising a Prostitute
A person who aids another engage in solicitation or prostitution in any manner may be convicted of this offense.
For instance, if you take a person to an area where they plan to get hired as a prostitute, you could be arrested for aiding the prostitute.
The crime is charged as a misdemeanor, punishable by:
- One thousand dollars in fines
- A maximum of six months in jail
PC 261 defines rape as non-consensual sex.
The prostitute is entitled to request their client to stop at any time. Should the client refuse, they might face both rape and prostitution charges.
It is a felony carrying the following penalties:
- Three, six, or eight years in state prison
- If the victim is below eighteen years, seven to thirteen years in state prison
PC 314 makes it illegal to expose your genitals in public. Nevertheless, the prosecution must prove your intent to direct attention to your genitals.
Most prostitution behaviors happen in hotel rooms, secluded areas, or private vehicles. Although prostitution conduct could trigger the criminal charge, this would not be the case.
Violation of PC 314 is a misdemeanor. It carries a maximum of six months in jail.
Loitering to Prostitute
Penal Code 653.22 makes it illegal to loiter in a public area intending to prostitute. The legislature added the section to assist law enforcers in deterring selling sex.
The crime is often prosecuted when there isn’t proof of specific prostitution conduct.
It is a California misdemeanor whose penalties are one thousand dollars in fines and a six-month jail sentence.
Lewd Conduct in Public
Under Penal Code Section 647a, it is a California misdemeanor to participate in lewd conduct in public or solicit a person to act so.
Generally, police put up surveillance posts to see prostitutes working at public intersections. Immediately, the police see a john interacting, they follow them. When the suspects engage in prostitution, the law enforcers arrest them under PC 647a and 647(b).
Because these police officers are watching from a distance, it can be challenging to establish the criminal charges.
What to Do After Your Arrest
Getting arrested is an overwhelming and frustrating situation. Any hostile conduct could significantly affect your case outcome. Below are essential steps you should take to avoid a conviction:
Hire an attorney
You should consult with a skilled sex crime defense attorney immediately after your arrest. If you have your attorney’s phone number, use the jail’s telephone system to speak with them. You can also request your loved ones to contact a lawyer on your behalf.
Hiring an attorney is essential because your attorney can start interviewing witnesses, gathering evidence, and building the defense straightaway. Your lawyer can also speak with the prosecution before your charges are filed.
Don’t Apply Force
You don’t have the right to resist arrest regardless of whether your arrest is unlawful or not. If you use force, you risk being prosecuted with battery on a police officer or resisting arrest. You can also end up with severe injuries. If your arrest is illegal, fight in a court of law, not on the streets.
Invoke your Right to Remain Silent
The prosecution could use anything you say against you in a court of law.
Frequently Asked Questions
Discussed below are some of the most frequently asked questions answered by the Pasadena Criminal Attorney legal team:
What is the Statute of Limitations of PC 647(b)?
One legal defense that you could raise in your case is the expiration of the statute of limitations. Statute of limitations is the amount of time that the prosecutor or district attorney has to bring criminal charges against the accused. If the prosecutor fails to file the charge within the deadline, the court should dismiss the charges.
Generally, the time frame begins on the day you allegedly committed the criminal act. Nonetheless, there are exemptions that the time limit doesn’t start until the DA learns of the offense.
Violation of Penal Code Section 647(b) PC should be filed within a year following the commission of the crime.
Sometimes, the time limit is tolled and temporarily halted. During this time, the days don’t count towards the final limit amount. For instance, the statute of limitations can be tolled if the accused flees Golden State.
What Happens If the Details on Your Criminal Records are Not Correct?
Suppose you believe the details in your criminal history are not correct. In that case, you can submit a formal challenge to the Department of Justice after receiving a copy of the criminal record from the department under PC 11120-11127.
You will be mailed Form BCIA 8706 “Claim of Alleged Inaccuracy or Incompleteness alongside your criminal record. Submit Form BCIA 8706 together with other supporting documents to the DOF using the address in the form. The department will review your challenge and then provide a written response alongside an amended copy of the criminal record if appropriate.
Can You Switch Your Defense Attorney in the Middle of Your Criminal Case?
According to the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution, you have a right to legal counsel. You are also entitled to the due process to appear and defend with a lawyer of your choice.
When exercising the right to defend yourself, you can fire the current attorney and replace them without giving any excuse, cause, or reason. California courts recognize the importance of a relationship of confidence and trust between the accused and their attorney.
This right isn’t absolute. Nevertheless, the judge might exercise discretion. In other words, they can deny the motion to change attorneys if you are unjustifiably arbitrarily or dilatory desires to switch lawyers during your trial.
The court might deny your motion if firing your current attorney:
- is not timely and will disrupt the justice processes under your case circumstances or
- result in considerable prejudice to you, like forcing you to trial without sufficient legal representation.
Can You Recant Your Statement in a Police Report?
You can withdraw or recant your statement to the police. However, you should note that even if you recant a statement:
- The prosecution could still file charges against you
- If you recant your statements because they were a lie or false, you will face criminal consequences
The state attorney determines what to do or whether to file charges. That means even when you recant your statement, the prosecution will proceed with your criminal case, assuming the team has other proof to support its case.
There are situations that it is okay to recant your statement, including:
- You were mistaken when making your statement
- The police officer misunderstood your statement
Nevertheless, it is different when you wish to recant your statement because you gave false statements to authorities. In this case, you might face either VC 31 or PC 148 charges.
Find a Qualified Sex Crime Defense Attorney Near Me
Have you been accused of prostitution or solicitation? The prosecutors don’t take sex crimes in California lightly. On top of serving time and paying fines, you can contend with the life-altering and indignity consequences. A mere accusation can affect your reputation in the community, school, and at work. Therefore, there is a definite need for a skilled defense attorney. Pasadena Criminal Attorney has previously worked on thousands of cases. Consequently, we know where to find evidence that builds your legal defense. We can interview witnesses, analyze police reports, and review surveillance videos to prove that you did not violate PC 647(b).
If you would love to have one of our knowledgeable attorneys on your side, call us today at 626-689-2277. Our legal team will be glad to schedule a free initial consultation to discuss your criminal charges in detail.