The legal definition of escort is a person who, for a fee or commission, reward or profit, accompanies other persons to or about social affairs, entertainment venues or places of amusement or consorts with others about any place of public resort or within any private quarters. In otherwords, an escort is a paid companion or date who accompanies another person to a social or entertainment event, for a fee. A real escort is charging money for his or her companionship and sexual favors are not included as part of their service. Some escorts may offer a massage, cuddle or kiss on the cheek, but sexual favors would cross the line into criminal territory. Escorts are booked through escort agencies or via online internet advertisements. Escorts in Los Angeles are required to obtain a license/permit and submit an application to the local Chief of Police. Escort licenses in Los Angeles are difficult to obtain.
What is the Difference Between an Escort and a Prostitute?
Paying an escort to be your date or companion is legal but if you pay an escort to have sex, it becomes prostitution. Prostitution is sex for money and it is a crime in California. According to California Penal Code section 647(b), also known as solicitation for prostitution, it is illegal to offer, agree to perform, or perform a sexual act in exchange for money or some other item of value.
Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail. Many women, in an effort to avoid criminal prosecution, promote themselves as escorts and not prostitutes, but law enforcement officers know this. Many escorts work through agencies, the majority of which are not credible and are simply fronts for prostitution.
How an Online Escort and Prostitution Sting Occurs
Most escorts are arrested for prostitution and are usually the result of an undercover police sting operation. Such occurrences often go as follows:
- Law enforcement targets internet ads that promote sexual services.
- The undercover officer will respond to the telephone number on the ad and ask about the services being offered and then arrange to meet the escort.
- The officer will go directly to the location (usually a hotel room or apartment) given by the escort.
- There, a discussion takes place about the services offered and the price.
- The officer will get the escort to describe what he is getting for his money – for example, sexual intercourse, oral sex, or a hand-job. (Most escorts who are cautious and suspicious of the officer may say nothing about their sexual services and instead order the officer to disrobe. The officer wants the escort to be specific about the services, and if she is, then the escort can be arrested for solicitation of prostitution.)
What are the Legal Consequences for Escort without a License?
If the escort does not incriminate herself, she can still be arrested for being an Escort without a license pursuant to Los Angeles Municipal Code section 103.107.1. An escort without a license is charged by prosecutors who do not have a strong enough case for prostitution or solicitation for prostitution as contained in California Penal Code 647(b).
Escort without a license is a misdemeanor punishable by:
- Up to 180 days in county jail
- $1,000 fine
In some cases, the charge of Escort without a license is eligible for an infraction or dismissal depending on the arrested person's criminal record.
Top Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyers
We understand the stigma associated with sex crimes including escorting and prostitution and we are committed to putting our 50 years plus of combined criminal law experience to work for you. We practice exclusively criminal defense and have represented many clients escorting and prostitution charges. Contact the lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to discuss your situation and learn how we can help you.
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