What is Considered Soliciting a Prostitute?
California prostitution law, Penal Code section 647(b), makes it illegal to engage in, agree to, offer, or seek sexual services in exchange for money or other compensation. Soliciting for prostitution means to offer or accept money or other compensation for sex. Soliciting a prostitute requires the specific intent to engage in prostitution.
What Does Soliciting Prostitution Mean
This means that you have solicited or seek another person to engage in sexual intercourse or another lewd act in exchange for money or compensation.
The Forms of Soliciting a Prostitute
The specific intent is demonstrated by some conduct which confirms the soliciting, such as:
- Withdrawing money from the ATM
- Driving to a hotel room where the sex will take place
- Having the prostitute enter your car
In California, a person can still be charged even if they never go through with the sexual act. Soliciting for prostitution is primarily a crime of words that can include the prostitute, the client, and any intermediary (such as a pimp) involved in the attempted transaction. Below is an example of a transaction:
Mary is an undercover police officer involved in a sting operation posing as a street walker in downtown Los Angeles. Tom, a tourist from Utah, approaches Mary and engages her in a conversation. During the conversation, Tom offers Mary $300 to accompany him to his hotel room to have sex. He shows her the money and they both walk to his hotel. Tom will likely be arrested for soliciting prostitution because his words and his behavior demonstrate an intent to have sex with Mary in exchange for money.
Uncover Methods Used to Make Prostitution Arrest
Police regularly use undercover methods to make prostitution arrests, including:
- Undercover sting operations
- Posting online ads
- Posing as customers to break up prostitution rings
Penalties for Soliciting a Prostitute
If an individual is caught soliciting a prostitute, they can be arrested and charged with a misdemeanor crime. In California, a first offense is punishable by:
- Up to six months in county jail
- Informal probation
- Community service
- A fine of up $1,000
- AIDS testing
In Los Angeles, first-time offenders may be eligible for a diversion program whereby the criminal charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program. Soliciting prostitution is a priorable offense, so subsequent convictions for this charge will increase the jail exposure.
Defenses Against Soliciting For Prostitution Charges
California prosecutors must prove every element of the soliciting for prostitution charges beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction. This can be a challenging task for prosecutors, and if the judge or jury has any reasonable doubt as to the evidence, an acquittal is likely to occur or a reduction of the charges. In some cases, there may be a solicitation to have sex but not for money. This would not lead to a conviction. There may be a situation where a person solicits sex for money but does not have the intention to go through with it and does nothing to further the sex act such as provide the money or go to the hotel room. This also would preclude a conviction. It is critical to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer who knows the law well and can assist you in mounting the best possible defense for your case.
Contact Solicitation for Prostitution Defense Attorneys in Los Angeles
If you have been arrested and accused of solicitation for prostitution in Los Angeles, contact the lawyers at Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners who have 70 years plus of criminal law experience defending clients against a wide variety of criminal charges, including solicitation and prostitution.
Request a free and confidential consultation with a Los Angeles prostitution defense lawyer today.