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IMPORTANT! PC 653.22(A), Loitering to with Intent to Engage in Prostitution, has been repealed under NEW California Law (PC 653.29). For information, including how to petition the court to seal and destroy a prior conviction of PC 653.22(a), please visit PC 653.29, or contact our criminal defense lawyers for a free consultation.

Loitering for Prostitution

PC 653.22(a) Law & Defense

Information on the crime of loiter with intent to commit prostitution is found at California penal code section 653.22(a).

To loiter with intent to commit prostitution means to delay or linger on property without lawful purpose and for the purpose of committing the crime of prostitution.

Note: Prostitution is defined as engaging in, agreeing to, or soliciting sexual services for compensation (PC 647(b))

To be found guilty of PC 653.22(a) the district attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant specifically loitered in an area with the specific intent to engage in the crime of prostitution.

Both the prostitute, and the person seeking prostitution services, may be charged with loitering with intent to commit prostitution under PC 647.22(a).


If an agreement, or solicitation, for sexual services in exchange for compensation is made, the defendant will be charged with the crime of prostitution and not just loitering to commit prostitution, which is a lesser crime than the crime of prostitution (PC 653.22(a) & 647(b)).

Evidence: PC 653.22(a) provides a list of conduct circumstances that may be considered loitering with intent to commit prostitution. These include:

  • Repeatedly beckons to, stops, engages in conversations with, or attempts to stop or engage in conversations with passersby, indicative of soliciting for prostitution (PC 653.22(b)(1))

  • Repeatedly stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles by hailing the drivers, waving arms, or making any other bodily gestures, or engages, or attempts to engage the drivers or passengers of the motor vehicles in conversation, indicative of soliciting for prostitution (PC 653.22(b)(2))

  • Circles an area in a motor vehicle and repeatedly beckons to, contacts, or attempts to contact or stop pedestrians or other motorists, indicative of soliciting for prostitution (PC 653.22(b)(4))

  • Has engaged, within six months prior to the arrest under this section, in any behavior described in this subdivision, with the exception of paragraph (3), or in any other behavior indicative of prostitution activity (PC 653.22(b)(5))

Note: This list of circumstantial evidence that is used to prove intent is not intended to be exclusive. Other evidence could include the defendant's confession, the presence of condoms on either the prostitute or the John, the location of the crime (as known to be frequented by prostitutes), and more.


Jail: The crime of loiter with intent to commit prostitution is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty, the defendant could face up to 180 days in the county jail (PC 653.22). Probation without jail, or probation with house arrest or work release, is a common sentence for a first time conviction of loiter with intent to commit prostitution, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed.

Note: Probation for misdemeanor convictions is called summary probation or informal probation, which means that the defendant does not have a probation officer, but rather, the court monitors the defendant's conditions of probation.

Sex Offender Registration: A judge may order sex offender registration in any criminal case, including PC 653.22(a) cases, if the judge finds that the defendant committed the crime for sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification. (See Penal Code 290.006). Note: This is a very unusual punishment and application of the law in PC 653.22(a) cases.

Driver's License Suspension: A defendant may lose his or her driving privilege if a vehicle was used to commit loitering with intent to commit prostitution.


Other Penalties: The defendant may be ordered to stay away from certain areas where prostitution is prevalent, pay fines and penalties, and other probation terms and conditions. If the defendant violates his or her probation the court may further punish the defendant, mandatory HIV testing, mandatory sex education classes, immigration and professional licensing consequences, John publication, and more.


Note: John publication is a notice on the county's website of the defendant's conviction for prostitution (PC 647(b)), or loiter with intent to commit prostitution (PC 653.22(a)).

Defenses to PC 653.22(a)

Insufficient Evidence: In loiter to with intent to commit prostitution crimes, the prosecuting attorney must prove three elements beyond a reasonable doubt: 1) intent to commit prostitution, 2) loitering, and 3) the defendant was in a public area. For example, saying "hello" to a known prostitute does not prove intent to commit prostitution, and waiving at a prostitute on the street does not prove loitering. The District Attorney sometimes has a difficult proving one of these elements necessary to secure a conviction in a PC 653.22(a) case.

Entrapment Defense: Entrapment occurs when the police encourage or promote a crime by way of their overbearing conduct. Most entrapment cases are associated with undercover sting operations by law enforcement. For example, undercover officers sometimes encourage men to stop and talk them about sex; thereafter, the undercover officer arrests a man for prostitution or loitering with intent to commit prostitution, even though the man never would have otherwise stopped.

Other defenses to PC 653.22(a) charges include: Statute of limitations, police officer misconduct such as illegal search and seizure of evidence, coerced confessions, mistake of fact, jury nullification, and more.

If you are charged with loiter with intent to commit prostitution, or PC 653.22(a), contact our prostitution defense lawyers today for a free consultation. Our attorneys have successfully defended many prostitution cases and there is no fee for a consultation. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​ Sheet

Crime: Loitering with Intent to Commit Prostitution

Code: PC 653.22(a) (CalCrim No. 1156)

Wobbler: No. PC 653.22(a) is not a wobbler. This means that PC 653.22(a) crime is only charged as a misdemeanor.​


Incarceration: ​PC 653.22(a) jail sentence up to 180 days.

Probation: Probation may be available in PC 653.22(a) 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 653.22(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.​


Bail: $5,000 (San Bernardino County)

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