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Keeping a House of Prostitution
PC 315 Law, Sentence, & Defense

In California, it is illegal to keep or reside in a house of prostitution. Keeping a house of prostitution is also known as keeping a house of ill fame, or keeping a house of ill repute.


Essentially, to keep a house of prostitution means to allow, manage, or operate a business where prostitutes are working, such as a brothel, strip club, massage parlor, or even an actual house, and with the defendant's knowledge.


Note: Prostitution is a crime in California and is basically defined as sexual services in exchange for compensation or other benefit (PC 647(b)).

Information on the crime of keeping a house of prostitution may be found at penal code section 315.

PC 315 Law

PC 315: Every person who keeps a house of ill fame, resorted to for the purposes of prostitution or lewdness, or who willfully reside in such house, is guilty of keeping a house of ill fame (prostitution) [Abbrev.).

To prove that the defendant is keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the district attorney will need to prove that the defendant:

  • Willfully maintained, or is residing in, a place where prostitution occurs, and

  • That at the time the house or building was used for prostitution the defendant knew that prostitution was occurring (PC 315).

Note: In all prosecutions for keeping or residing in a house of prostitution, the use the reputation of the house may be received as competent evidence of the character of the house, the purpose for which it is kept or used, and the character of the women inhabiting or resorting to it (PC 315) [Summarized]

PC 315 Punishment


Jail or Probation: PC 315 is classified as a misdemeanor. If convicted of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame the defendant may face up to 180 days in county jail. A probation, without a jail sentence, may be allowed in some cases. Some probation sentences include a sentence of work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest). Also, probation terms for PC 315 convictions usually include restraining orders that restrict the defendant from visiting the place where the prostitution occurred.

Red light abatement law: California has a Red Light Abatement Law, which allows for special penalties against defendants upon any conviction of keeping a house of prostitutes. Penalties include: Injunction against conducting business in the establishment where the prostitution occurred and forced sale of the business by the government.

Fines: The penalty fine for a first time conviction of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, may be up to $1,000.00. This amount does not include any penalty associated with Red Light Abatement Law penalties.

Massage Therapist License: If convicted of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the defendant may lose his or her massage therapist license or business license (GC 51032 & CCR Title 16).

Immigration Consequences: If convicted of PC 315, a non U.S. citizen defendant could face possible loss of immigration status, including deportation from the United States, denial of re-entry to the U.S., loss of work visa, or loss of permanent residence status.

Common Defenses

Police Misconduct & Miranda Violations: Evidence obtained by illegal searches or seizures, coerced confessions, or confessions that are received in violation of the defendant's Miranda rights, may be suppressed from the prosecution's case.

Entrapment Defense: Entrapment occurs when the police encourage or promote a crime by way of their overbearing conduct. For example, if a police officer entices a person to perform prostitution services while receiving a massage, the police officer may have entrapped defendant. Examples of entrapment include flattery or coaxing by an officer to a defendant to commit a crime. It can also include repeated or insistent requests, or even an appeal to sympathy or friendship to commit a crime. The conduct of the officers is the primary focus on an entrapment defense. If the conduct of the officers would cause a normally law abiding citizen to commit a crime then the defendant may have been entrapped. Evidence collected through entrapment may not be used against the defendant.

Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations is a law (a statute) that limits the amount of time (limitations) that prosecutors otherwise have to file criminal claims against defendants. For PC 315 crimes the statute of limitations is one year from the date of incident.

Jury Nullification: Jury nullification occurs when the jury, or any individual juror, believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, but nevertheless, the jury, or a juror, votes not guilty. This occurs when a juror believes that the crime of keeping a house of prostitution is not morally wrong or that the defendant should not be punished for some reason beyond the fact that the defendant is guilty.

Other defenses include: Impeachment of witnesses that allege a house is kept for prostitution, insufficient evidence, mistake of fact, duress, and more.

If you are charged with any prostitution crime, including PC 315 keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, contact our prostitution defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Keeping a House of Prostitution

Code: PC 315

Wobbler: No. PC 315 is not a wobbler. This means that PC 315 is only charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 315 jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Probation is allowed in PC 315 cases (assuming that other crimes or enhancements that might bar a probation sentence are not present). Whether or not a probation sentence is offered by the District Attorney, or granted by the court, depends on several factors, including the defendant's criminal history and the facts of the case.​

Work Release or House Arrest: In some cases, a probation sentence can include actual in-custody county jail, house arrest (electronic monitoring), or work release (or some combination of these penalties); however, most in-custody jail sentence orders that are required as a terms of probation are much shorter than the maximum jail sentence.

Strike: PC 315 is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.​​​​​​

Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

Keeping a House of Prostitution PC 315 Criminal defense lawyer attorney sentence punishment penalty jail prison misdemeanor felony Redlands Yucaipa san Bernardino rialto colton fontana rancho Cucamonga Ontario Victorville highland Hesperia loma linda se habla espanol Spanish abogado hs California ca crime penal code

Colton, Rialto, Redlands, Upland, Ontario, Loma Linda, Highland, Fontana, Yucaipa, Chino, Hesperia, Victorville, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga

Related Crimes

  • PC 653.22(a) Loiter w/intent to commit prostitution

  • PC 647(b) Agree to, solicit, or engage prostitution

  • PC 309 Admit a minor into house of prostitution

  • PC 266i Pandering

  • PC 266h Pimping

  • PC 236.1 Human Trafficking

  • PC 11225 Red Light Abatement Law

  • GC 51302 Massage parlor license denial law

  • PC 647(m)(1) Soliciting a minor for prostitution

  • PC 266g Prostituting wife

  • PC 267 Abduction of minor for prostitution

  • PC 316 Leasing house of prostitution

  • PC 273e Sending minor to house of prostitution

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