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Prostitution Law & Defense

PC 647(b) Crimes

Information on the crime of prostitution is found at California penal code section 647(b)(2). In short, prostitution is the act of of agreeing to, or engaging in, sexual conduct for money or services.

PC 647(b)(2): Prostitution is defined as agreeing to, or solicitation of, a lewd act between two or more persons, for payment of money, or other compensation (other compensation can include drugs, jewelry, services, etc) [Abbrev.]. 

PC 647(b) may be charged against the prostitute or the person soliciting prostitution services (John).

A Lewd act is defined as intercourse, vaginal or anal, or oral copulation, or, the touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person's body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. The touching does not need to be skin to skin.

To solicit a prostitute means to communicate, by words or conduct, an offer or a request, to another person to engage in prostitution. The defendant need not make an express verbal offer of sex to constitute a solicitation for prostitution. It also does not matter that money or other compensation was actually exchanged in solicitation cases; it is the solicitation itself that is criminal.

For soliciting prostitution cases the defendant must specifically intend to commit prostitution; it does not matter if the prostitute actually agrees to engage in prostitution, or that any lewd act actually occurred, so long as the defendant intended to commit prostitution.

Agreeing to Commit Prostitution: It is illegal to agree to commit prostitution. To agree to commit prostitution the person who agrees must have been solicited. To prove that the defendant is guilty of agreeing to commit prostitution charged under PC 647(b), the prosecutor will need to prove all of the following:

  • The defendant accepted an offer for sexual services in exchange for money or other benefit, and

  • The defendant performed some act in furtherance of the commission of the crime, and

  • The defendant specifically intended to agree to prostitution

Note: An act in furtherance of prostitution means that the defendant did something after agreeing to commit prostitution that helps interpret the defendant's intent. For example, driving to a location to meet a prostitute after agreeing to commit prostitution might be considered an act in furtherance of the crime that serves as circumstantial evidence of the defendant's intent to commit prostitution.

Remember: It does not matter if the person offering the sexual services for hire actually intended to commit prostitution, only that the person who agreed to the offer actually intended to commit prostitution.

Common Defenses

Entrapment: Entrapment occurs when law enforcement, or their agents, encourage or promote the crime of prostitution by way of their overbearing conduct. For example, if an undercover police officer entices a defendant to commit prostitution by repeat and insistent request, or appeals to the sympathy or friendship of the defendant, and the defendant thereafter commits the crime as a result of that overbearing conduct, the police officer may have entrapped the defendant to commit the crime.

Insufficient Evidence: Insufficient evidence simply means not enough evidence to prove the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Illegal Search & Seizure: Searches of cell phones and vehicles, or seizures of evidence or statements without warrants, might be considered a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights to privacy and privileges against self-incrimination, and as such, any evidence obtained during a search or seizure without a warrant, and any statements made by the defendant, might be ruled inadmissible in a criminal case.

Note: Other police misconduct issues in prostitution cases include, racial profiling, coerced confessions, excessive force, failure to turn over evidence favorable to defendant, false reporting, entrapment, and more. 

Statute of Limitations: The statute (or law) of limitations is a rule that bars (stops) prosecution of criminal cases after a certain time from the date of incident. PC 647(b) are filed as misdemeanors in California. Misdemeanors have a one year statute of limitations.

Jury Nullification: Jury nullification is a process whereby the jury, or an individual juror, believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated PC 647(b); however, for moral, political, personal, or other reasons, the jury, or any individual juror, votes not guilty in a case. This is not a true defense; however, it is not that uncommon in prostitution cases.

Punishment

First Offense: For a first offense misdemeanor conviction of PC 647(b), the defendant faces up to one hundred eighty (180) days in the county jail.

Second Offense: A second conviction for prostitution (PC 647(b)) requires the defendant to serve no less than 45 days in county jail, and up to 180 days.

Third Offense: A third conviction for prostitution (647(b)) requires the defendant to serve no less than 90 days in county jail, and up to 180 days.

 

In addition to any jail sentence, the defendant may be placed on informal probation with terms and conditions, including restraining orders and monetary fines. The defendant will also be ordered to take an AIDS HIV education class and submit to AIDS testing. Also, the defendant may have his or her driving license suspended in some cases, suffer immigration or professional licensing consequences, and more.

Note: PC 647(b) is not considered a sex offender register offense in most circumstances (exceptions are unusual but do apply PC 290.006).

If you are charged with the crime of prostitution, or penal code 647(b)(2)-M, contact our experienced prostitution defense attorneys today for a free consultation. Call today!

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Criminal Defense Lawyers

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