Los Angeles Prostitution Defense Attorney

Fighting Prostitution Charges

Arrests for prostitution, solicitation, pandering, or loitering in Los Angeles occur on a regular basis and are the result of the ever increasing number of illegal sexual services for hire that occur all over the city. Law enforcement agencies have been making numerous prostitution arrests using any number of undercover methods, including:

  • Sting Operations - Wearing provocative clothing and posing as prostitutes, police officers use this roadside method to lure would-be customers off the street and into the bedroom, only to be arrested for prostitution. This is one of the most common methods that police will use to catch "Johns" in the act.
  • Prostitution Ring Breakups - Using the reverse tactic from sting operation, police officers pose as customers seeking to find sex for hire. Once inside the supposed massage parlors or with the personal escort, the police will make arrests upon determining the falsehood of the organization.
  • Sex Online - Websites offer services for companionship as a cover up for prostitution. Acting as potential customers for these Internet-based sites, law enforcement agencies are able to distinguish the legal from the illegal and make arrests accordingly. Law enforcement targets online personal profile ads, such as those seen on BackPage.com and CityVibe.com.

The Internet, cell phones and newspaper ads are used to catch suspects. As a result, innocent citizens with no criminal history can be arrested and accused of prostitution or other offenses, simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time. In Los Angeles, both the prostitute and the "John" are aggressively prosecuted.

If you have been charged with solicitation for prostitution, prostitution, loitering with intent to commit prostitution, pandering, pimping, or lewd conduct in public you need the assistance of a Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. We understand how California's prostitution laws work and will use that knowledge to defend you.

We encourage you to call our office to schedule a no-cost consultation.

Prostitution Law in California

In the most general sense, prostitution is offering or agreeing to have sex or having sex for money. Both the person who offered the sex and the person who accepted the sex can be convicted. It doesn't matter if you answered an ad for a "personal escort" or "masseuse"; if sexual activity was part of the service and money changed hands, it was illegal. Per California Penal Code Section 647(b), it is illegal to solicit, agree to engage in, or engage in any act of prostitution. The crime is charged as a misdemeanor.

Solicitation of Prostitution

To solicit is to urge, induce or entice another person to engage in an act of prostitution with specific intent to engage in prostitution, coupled with an act in furtherance of the prostitution. An act in furtherance of prostitution means something more than accepting the solicitation.

Examples of soliciting prostitution include:

  • Driving to the hotel or motel where the prostitution will take place
  • Walking to an ATM and withdrawing money to pay for prostitution
  • Allowing a prostitute to enter the car for sexual activity
  • Turning over the agreed upon money for prostitution

Both the prostitute and the customer can solicit prostitution.

Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution

If a person agrees to engage in act of prostitution with another person, and he or she did so with the specific intent to engage in prostitution, and in addition to the agreement does an act in furtherance of prostitution. Examples: driving to the hotel or motel where the prostitution will take place; walking over to the ATM and withdrawing money to pay for the prostitution; allowing the prostitute to enter the car to be driven to the location of the sexual activity; and turning over the agreed upon money.

Engaging in an Act of Prostitution

Willfully engaging in sexual intercourse or any lewd act in exchange for money is considered to be an act of prostitution. In California law, a lewd act is defined as touching the genitals, female breasts, or buttocks by either the prostitute or the customer with some part of the other person's body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification of either person.

Loitering for Prostitution

In California, individuals who are arrested for prostitution are sometimes charged with loitering for prostitution. According to the California Penal Code 653.22, it is a crime if the defendant delayed or lingered in a public place and when the defendant did so, he or she did not have a lawful purpose for being there and he or she intended to commit prostitution.

Examples of loitering for prostitution include:

  • Repeatedly stopping, beckoning, or engaging in conversations with passersby in a way that indicated a solicitation of prostitution;
  • Attempting to stop vehicles by waving, haling, gesturing, or engaging drivers or passengers in conversation in a way that indicated a solicitation of prostitution;
  • Circling and driving a vehicle in an area known for prostitution.

Lewd Conduct in Public

In California, individuals who are arrested for prostitution are sometimes charged with a concurrent offense of a lewd act in public. According to California Penal Code Section 647(a), a defendant who willfully engages in sexual intercourse or lewd conduct in public is guilty of this offense.

Prosecutors also consider additional evidence in prostitution cases such as: possession of condoms by the prostitute or the "John;" large amounts of cash by the customer; possession of a client book; sexy attire by the person soliciting; online ad offering companionship, a "good time" or "happy ending;" the mention of "roses" as in 300 roses for services offered. All of this evidence may suggest that some type of prostitution was going to occur, but in and of itself, prostitution cannot be charged.

Prostitution Penalties

Below are the potential penalties for prostitution-related offenses:

  • County jail and probation
  • Community service
  • AIDS testing
  • Fines
  • Counseling (court-enforced)
  • Cal Trans (physical labor)
  • Loss of employment

Prostitution Defenses

The prosecution will attempt to prove there was an agreement to engage in an act of prostitution. This is usually achieved by means of a recording device during conversations between an undercover cop and the accused. If a record of the conversation cannot be produced, the agreement may be established by the text messages and or emails sent back and forth between the prostitute and the customer or undercover police. If the accused has no money on their person, the prosecution may have a difficult time proving the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.

The prosecutor must prove at least one of the following elements existed in order to successfully obtain a prostitution conviction:

  • Solicit (strongly urge or entice) for an act of prostitution
  • Agree to engage in an act of prostitution
  • Engage in an act of prostitution

There are several defenses available for the crimes of prostitution, solicitation, pandering, and loitering. Each case is different, and the defenses to these crimes will ultimately depend on the type of evidence available.

Don't Fight Your Charges Alone - Contact Our Firm

You first line of defense is to contact a skilled criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles. We will evaluate the evidence and witnesses, question the appropriate persons, and work with you on building your defense. The legal team at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners will act immediately to preserve any evidence favorable to the defense.

For an aggressive representation to protect your rights and your freedom, contact a Los Angeles prostitution lawyer immediately.