Under California Penal Code 647(b), prostitution and solicitation involve giving or receiving payment for sexual favors. You can be found guilty of this offense for participating in, soliciting, or agreeing to participate in prostitution acts. Most arrests for prostitution and solicitation stem from sting operations performed by law enforcement officers.
A conviction for solicitation and prostitution will land you behind bars and tarnish your reputation. Sometimes, a mere charge for this offense could significantly impact your personal and professional life. If you face charges for violating PC 647(b) in Anaheim, CA, you will require guidance and legal representation from a knowledgeable criminal lawyer.
Your choice of legal representation may make the difference between incarceration, a lowered sentence, or a dismissed case. At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we understand how a PC 647(b) conviction could impact your life. We work hard to protect your constitutional rights and fight your charges to avoid the consequences of a conviction.
Understanding Solicitation and Prostitution Laws
California PC 647(b) seeks to punish individuals who offer to provide or pay for prostitution services. Charges under this statute are based on the following violations:
Engaging in prostitution
The prosecution must prove these facts to show that you engaged in prostitution:
- You engaged in sexual penetration or lewd conduct willfully. A willful act is deliberate. Intent to break the law or annoy another person is not enough to find you guilty of prostitution.
- You engaged in these acts for compensation. Compensation for sexual acts could be through money, drugs, or another valuable item.
The elements of prostitution solicitation include the following:
- You requested or persuaded another person to participate in prostitution.
- You acted with an intent to engage in prostitution acts.
The court cannot find you guilty of solicitation of prostitution if your arrest is based on these factors:
- You were in a location famous for prostitution.
- You waved at a vehicle.
- You stand on the street in revealing clothing.
- You nodded to a stranger.
Agreeing to Participate in Prostitution Acts
You can be charged with prostitution and solicitation for accepting another person’s persuasion or advances in prostitution. The prosecution will obtain a conviction against you if the following elements are clear:
- You agreed to participate in prostitution acts with someone.
- You did something else to further the intent.
Some of the things that count as further acts of prostitution include:
- Giving the agreed payment.
- Driving to a location for prostitution.
These elements are critical when an individual is arrested in a sting operation and charged with violating PC 647(b).
Sting Operations Targeting Prostitution
With increased instances of prostitution in California, law enforcement officers are vigilant to catch and arrest individuals who engage in the crime. Most arrests for prostitution and solicitation arise from sting operations. Law enforcement officers go undercover, pretending to be prostitutes or trying to solicit prostitution.
These sting operations aim to catch individuals who solicit and engage in the acts. The undercover officer can make statements that show the intent to seek sexual acts for compensation. During the interaction, the officer can confirm these acts:
- Your proposal to engage in sexual acts for compensation.
- Your offer to pay for sexual intercourse or lewd acts.
You could be arrested and charged under PC 647(b) when your intent is confirmed. Your interactions with the officers are recorded and can be presented as evidence in your case.
Penalties for Violating PC 647(b)
The crimes of prostitution and solicitation attract misdemeanor charges in California. After a conviction under PC 647(b), you could face these penalties:
- Misdemeanor probation.
- A fine that does not exceed $1000.
- A jail sentence that does not exceed six months.
The jail sentence is not mandatory for your first offense under this statute. Your criminal attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to send you on probation. Misdemeanor probation lasts for up to three years. This allows you to avoid incarceration.
Prostitution and solicitation are prior offenses. This means you will face a harsher penalty if you are a repeat offender. The court will impose a mandatory sentence for your second and subsequent offenses.
Penalties for Prostitution in a Motor Vehicle
If you engage in or solicit prostitution in a motor vehicle, you could face a six-month mandatory driver’s license suspension. The license suspension will be an addition to jail time and fines. If your license is suspended for violating PC 647(b), you can obtain a restricted driver’s license to drive to work, school, and court-ordered programs.
Defenses Against Prostitution and Solicitation in California
Your best bet for beating PC 647(b) charges is to work with a knowledgeable lawyer. Your attorney will guide you through the best strategies for your case. The following defense can help you avoid a conviction for prostitution and solicitation in California:
Depending on the nature of your charges, the prosecution must prove all the elements of your crime. Some elements can be challenging to prove. The prosecution must rely on circumstantial evidence. If your arrest resulted from a sting operation, the undercover officer's testimony can also be used in your case. Additionally, you can use this defense if the prosecution presents questionable or unreliable evidence.
There is physical evidence needed to prove prostitution and solicitation. Therefore, it is easy to fall victim to false accusations for this offense. A conviction under PC 647(b) will land you in jail and ruin your reputation. A person may be driven by jealousy or anger to falsely accuse you of a crime.
Another reason you may be falsely accused is when law enforcement officers misidentify you. Most prostitution acts occur during the night and in secluded areas. Therefore, if you are found in such areas, you could be mistakenly charged with prostitution and solicitation.
A skilled criminal lawyer can help you uncover the false allegation scheme and clear your name. This could be done by providing an alibi for the time the prostitution allegedly happened.
Mistake of Fact
The prosecution must prove your intent to exchange money for sexual favors before you are convicted of this crime. You can use a mistake of fact as a defense if the circumstances surrounding your arrest and charges do not show a clear intention to engage in or solicit prostitution.
Law enforcement officers target prostitutes in their sting operations. Entrapment occurs when a police officer acts in a way that causes a law-abiding citizen to engage in criminal acts. This could be done through extreme persuasion, coercion, or threats. If the officers have received a tip that you are involved in solicitation or prostitution, they can use unlawful tactics to secure an arrest.
Entrapment is a valid defense for prostitution cases in California. When you argue that you were entrapped, you will be responsible for proving that the police officers engaged in acts aimed at entrapping you.
Negotiating a Charge Reduction
Walking free from the charges may be unlikely when the prosecution has a strong case and evidence against you. You can negotiate with the court to reduce your charge to a lesser offense, like disturbing the peace. With a reduced charge, you will face less serious penalties and can avoid the social stigma of prostitution and solicitation.
Frequently Asked Questions on California PC 647(b)
The stakes are high for defendants facing charges of prostitution and solicitation in California. Taking the right steps is necessary to protect your rights and beat the charges to avoid a conviction. The following are commonly asked questions on the arrest, prosecution, and punishment for prostitution and solicitation:
Are escorts legal in California?
Being an escort is not a crime. However, paying for a sexual favor from the escort can attract criminal charges. Escort services aim to provide accompaniment and companionship for their customers. Any further financial arrangement involving a sexual act with the escort could result in arrest and conviction for prostitution and solicitation.
Is sex offender registration mandatory for prostitution and solicitation?
For most criminal convictions, a defendant worries about going to jail or paying hefty fines. However, if you violate sex crime laws, the court may impose a sex-offender registration requirement. Being labeled a sex offender can be detrimental to your life. Like a criminal conviction, the sex offender registry is accessible to the public.
Fortunately, registration as a sex offender will not be mandatory when you are convicted under California PC 647(b).
What should I do if I am arrested for prostitution and prostitution?
The steps you take after an arrest for engaging in or soliciting prostitution could impact the outcome of your case and affect your freedom. The consequences of a conviction for violating PC 647(b) are serious and life-changing. Taking the following steps could help you avoid making your case worse and increase your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome:
- Remain silent. The information you offer law enforcement officers after your arrest can be used as evidence in your case. You must wait until you have legal representation to answer interrogation questions.
- Seek legal guidance. Sex crime laws are not easy to understand or navigate. Therefore, having a lawyer guide you through every step is critical. Your attorney will ensure that your constitutional rights are protected. Additionally, the lawyer will gather the evidence to defend the case.
- Post bail. Most defendants facing charges of prostitution and solicitation will be entitled to bail. In addition to being free, a bail release allows you to speak freely with your legal team. If your attorney visits you in jail, law enforcement officers could record your conversation and use it against you. You can explain your side of the story to your attorney without fear that this information will be used to incriminate you further if you are out on bail.
Can I be arrested for soliciting prostitution on the phone?
Yes. Many law enforcement officers conduct sting operations to catch individuals who solicit or agree to engage in prostitution. In these sting operations, the police officers go undercover and try to blend in with the public. You can be charged with violating Penal Code 647(b) if you call an officer posing as a prostitute and offer money for sex.
How does Senate Bill 233 protect sex workers in California?
After SB 233 was passed in 2020, law enforcement officers could not arrest you for prostitution because you carry condoms. When this fact is removed as probable cause, the number of arrests and charges for solicitation and prostitution will significantly decrease.
Additionally, SB 233 immunizes you from arrest and conviction for low-level charges when you report a serious crime. In the past, sex workers who witnessed serious crimes feared coming forward for fear of being charged with loitering to commit prostitution. This makes it easier for sex workers to report incidences of abuse and pimping.
Crimes Related to Prostitution and Solicitation
When you face an arrest for committing a crime in California, the prosecution will file as many charges as the evidence collected against you can support. You could be charged with the following related offenses instead of or together with PC 647(b):
Under California PC 266(h), pimping is the derivation of support or revenue from another person’s prostitution acts. This could include managing a brothel and offering protection to prostitutes in exchange for a share of their earnings. The criminal elements of pimping include:
- You knew or should have known of the other person's prostitution. A person is considered a prostitute if they engage in sexual intercourse or lewd conduct for compensation. The prosecutor must prove your knowledge of the other person's acts.
- You received payment from the prostitute, or you benefited from their proceeds. This could mean the entire amount or a slight portion of the money.
Pimping is a felony that carries a prison sentence of six years. Sometimes, the court can sentence you to felony probation. This reduces the time you have to spend behind bars. If you are charged with pimping a minor, your sentence could be increased to eight years.
Pandering is a serious felony charged under PC 266i. You can be arrested and charged with pandering if you influence someone else to engage in or continue practicing prostitution. The prosecutor must prove that you used the following tactics to commit the crime:
- Persuaded the person to engage in prostitution.
- Arranged for someone to enter a brother for prostitution.
- You used force and threats of violence to encourage someone into prostitution.
- You used fraud to persuade another person to enter a place of prostitution.
The court can find you guilty of pandering even when you do not convince someone to become a prostitute. A conviction for pandering results in a prison sentence of six years.
California Penal Code 236.1 makes it a crime to hold another person's hand, intending to force them into prostitution. With the increased publicity surrounding sex trafficking, a person facing charges for this offense could face serious penalties after a conviction.
A conviction for sex trafficking arises when the prosecution proves these factors:
- You held another person against their will.
- You forced them into prostitution.
- You entice a minor into prostitution.
Sex trafficking attracts felony charges in California. The punishment you face after a conviction for this offense ranges from eight to twenty years in federal prison. Your criminal history and the alleged victim's age could affect the severity of your punishment.
Aiding a Prostitute
You can be arrested and charged with aiding a prostitute if you recruit or supervise prostitution practices. Under California PC 653.23(a), aiding or supervising a prostitute attracts misdemeanor charges.
Lewd Conduct in Public
California law defines lewd conduct as touching your or another person’s genitals or breasts for sexual gratification. You can be charged with lewd conduct for engaging in these acts or soliciting another person for lewd conduct in a public area.
Lewd conduct in public is charged under PC 647(a) and has the following elements:
- You touched your or another person’s genitals, buttocks, or breasts.
- You engaged in these acts in a public area.
- You used the internet for sexual gratification or to offend someone else.
- Another person was in the area, and your actions could have offended them.
- You knew or should have known that your acts could offend someone else.
A violation of PC 647(a) is a misdemeanor punishable by a jail sentence of six months. If you are a first-time offender with no extensive criminal history, the court can sentence you to probation instead of jail. With the probation sentence, you will spend little or no jail time. The court will impose the following conditions on your probation sentence:
- Pay court fines.
- Attend counseling
- Undergo an AIDS test.
- Stay away from the area where the crime occurred.
If you engage in lewd conduct in a public place for monetary compensation, the prosecution can file charges under PC 647(a) and 647(b). A conviction for these offenses could see you spend a long time behind bars. Therefore, you must have a skilled lawyer for legal guidance.
Willful exposure of your genitals in the presence of another person is a crime under California PC 314. You will face a conviction for indecent exposure if the prosecution can prove these elements in your case:
- You exposed your genitals willfully. The prosecution must prove that your actions were deliberate for a conviction under PC 314.
- You exposed yourself in another person’s presence. You must have exposed yourself in a public area and in the presence of another person to be convicted of this crime. In this case, public areas could include the park, streetwalker, or parking lot.
- You intended to draw attention to your genitals. A conviction for violating PC 314 requires the prosecutor to show your intent to attract attention to your genitals. The court can still find you guilty even if no one saw your genitals.
- You acted with sexual gratification in mind. You cannot be charged with indecent exposure simply because your zipper is down or your clothes are torn. The prosecutor has to show that you intentionally exposed yourself for sexual gratification.
Indecent exposure is a wobbler. For first-time offenders, the prosecutor will file a misdemeanor charge. You could serve a year in county jail if convicted of the offense. You could face felony charges if you expose your genitals in an inhabited dwelling where you entered without authorization. For a felony conviction, the court will sentence you to three years in prison.
In addition to incarceration, there is mandatory sex offender registration for defendants found guilty of indecent exposure.
Find a Knowledgeable Criminal Lawyer Near Me
You can be charged with violating PC 647(b) for offering sexual intercourse for compensation and accepting to engage in lewd conduct for money. Additionally, a person who persuades someone else to engage in these acts can be charged under this statute. Solicitation and prostitution are complicated and can involve multiple individuals. You should not take charges for prostitution and solicitation lightly.
You could face various criminal consequences if the court finds you guilty of this offense. After paying your fines and serving time behind bars, the conviction will taint your criminal record. This will appear on all your background checks and can cause stigma and discrimination.
Not all arrests related to PC 647(b) result in a guilty verdict. Some accusations are based on mistaken identification, false allegations, or misrepresentations of facts. It is possible to walk free after such a serious charge. California's sex crime laws are complex. Therefore, you must hire and retain a criminal lawyer to guide you through the case.
At California Criminal Lawyer Group, we have the knowledge and experience you need to build a solid defense and secure a favorable outcome for your case. We serve clients seeking legal guidance and representation to battle sex crime charges in Anaheim, CA. Contact us at 714-766-0965 to discuss the case.