Legal Dictionary

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Prostitution

Prostitution is sex for money. In California, it is a crime under Penal Code section 647(b) to solicit, agree to engage in, or engage in any act of prostitution. California defines prostitution as sexual intercourse or any lewd act between persons for money or other compensation. A lewd act is touching 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 of either person.

Solicitation for prostitution means to lure or induce someone to have sex. Solicitation must be accompanied by an intent to engage in prostitution. The intent is not evidenced by words alone. Intent can be evidenced by an offer to pay money or other compensation (such as drugs) in exchange for sex. Also, there must be an act in furtherance of the prostitution, such as taking off your clothes, driving or parking the car at an agreed upon location, handing over the cash, or driving to the bank to withdraw cash for the prostitution.

In order to be convicted of agreeing to engage in prostitution the prosecutor must prove that you actually agreed to engage in prostitution and that you had the intention to engage in prostitution. There must also be an act in furtherance of the prostitution as mentioned above. This act in furtherance of the prostitution means that there must be some action by the parties that moves in the direction of actually consummating the prostitution act.

In order for a California prosecutor to convict someone of engaging in an act of prostitution, the prosecutor need only prove that a person willfully engaged in an act of prostitution and that the person did so willfully. Willfully is defined as deliberately or on purpose. A specific intent to break the law is not required.

Soliciting, agreeing to engage in, or engaging in prostitution are all misdemeanors punishable by up to 180 days in county jail and a fine of up to $1000. Second and third convictions for prostitution carry a minimum sentence of 30 to 45 days in county jail. There is no sex registration requirement for any of these convictions.

If you or someone you know is being charged with prostitution consult with an experienced prostitution defense attorney before pleading guilty.