Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm offering criminal defense services to clients in Vista California. This law firm provides defense for many types of crimes including prostitution and solicitation. Legal experts from this firm have extensive experience in offering such services making us very reputable in the Vista community. The attorneys also understand California laws as well as legal issues in this state. We are determined to help our clients win their cases or get favorable terms for them. Prostitution charges come in different forms and there are many available legal defenses. These may include insufficient evidence, entrapping, mistake of fact and proof of intent among others.
What Is Prostitution And Solicitation Under California Laws?
In California laws, matters pertaining to prostitution and solicitation are covered under the Penal Code PC 647 (b). Prostitution under this penal code is criminalized in three main forms.
- Taking part in sexual activities for the purpose of exchange with money and other goods. The victim may also willfully engage in sexual intercourse. That is, without the knowledge that it is prohibited.
- Soliciting prostitution. This refers to offering compensation to someone to perform sexual activities. The defendant may also be charged for soliciting a person who is not a prostitute if the ‘prostitute’ was a disguised undercover cop or the prostitute said no to the proposed transaction with the defendant.
- Agreeing to receive compensation for performing sexual activities.
This code, therefore, encompasses both the customer, also referred to as ‘John’ and the prostitute. If a person has entered an agreement and made some first steps towards fulfilling the crime, it is considered a complete crime. The charges for this crime may, therefore, be charged against the customer or the prostitute. Sexual acts in this code include sexual intercourse or other erotic activities such as touching sexual organs, women breasts or buttocks aiming at sexual arousal. It is also illegal according to the penal code for one to solicit prostitution for instance at a massage parlor or a night club. This is however difficult to prove since the prosecutor may not be able to demonstrate if the service, offer or the invitation was intended for exchanging sexual acts with money.
In California, children under the age of 18 years cannot be charged with prostitution offenses. Such children cannot be rendered guilty of prostitution. This is according to the amendment made on the Penal Code PC 647 (b) by California Senate Bill SB 1322. Under this amendment, if children under 18 years are found to have committed prostitution acts, it is referred to as “commercial sexual exploitation”. Such a child cannot be jailed or go to juvenile hall. They may instead undergo temporary custody of up to 15 days.
Elements of a Prostitution and Solicitation Case
For one to be convicted of a prostitution or solicitation offense, the prosecutor must show the following elements:
- The prosecutor must prove that the defendant was intending to take part in prostitution for exchange with money.
- The defendant had made a request or asked another person to take part in the prostitution act.
- The other person received the requested information from the defendant.
- The defendant and the customer had had an agreement to engage in the prostitution act.
- The prosecutor also has to provide proof that an act was done by the defendant to indicate that the defendant had agreed to engage in prostitution. This may include any act of furthering the action of prostitution such as receiving or giving money as a payment for the crime. The evidence may be in form of ATM withdrawal or traveling to the location of the act. Other evidence may include possessing items such as condoms. However, on their own, some of this evidence may not be sufficient to prove that you are guilty.
- The prosecutor must as well prove that the defendant engaged themselves in the sexual intercourse or other sexual acts.
Who Gets Charged for Prostitution and Solicitation
In California prostitution law, charges can be made against any person who gives an offer to another party, the one who agrees to take the offer or any person who engages in prostitution. This also includes people who engage in pimping and pandering.
Pimping, according to the penal code 266(h) PC, is when one earns from another person’s engagement in prostitution or getting paid for soliciting prostitutes. That is providing the prostitutes with customers for a pay.
Pandering as per the penal code 266(i) PC is said to have occurred when someone:
- Persuades threatens or compensates another person to become a prostitute,
- Gets a job for another person to work as a prostitute,
- Encourages or ensures that another person continues to work as a prostitute,
- Engages in the procurement of another person for prostitution purposes or,
- One is paid or gives money for luring or persuading another person for prostitution.
A lady posts on a website asking men to call her for sexual intercourse and she gives out her phone number. She offers a rate of $500 for a night. John makes a call and he gets the directions to the lady’s house. John travels to the lady’s house, makes the agreed payment and they engage in sexual activity. Now, according to the penal code 647(b), both John and the lady will be charged for prostitution. The lady will be charged for offering prostitution on the website and making arrangements with John on the phone. John, on the other hand, will be charged for agreeing to take part in prostitution by making a call to the lady, traveling to her house and paying for the sexual act.
John asks a pimp to arrange for his meeting with a lady for purpose of having sex and John agrees to pay the pimp $150. The pimp organizes for their time to meet as well as a hotel room. Both John and the lady meet at the hotel room to have sex. The lady and John have sex and John pay $150 to the pimp. In such a case, all the three participants will be charged under the penal code 647(b). John and the lady will be charged for agreeing and engaging in prostitution. The pimp will be charged for making the arrangements. In addition, the pimp may face the pimping charges under the penal code 266.
Loitering With a Prostitution Intent
In California, one may get arrested by cops in the event that they believe that you loitered with an aim of selling prostitution offers or intending to serve as a prostitute. This may put someone under misdemeanor charges. Those who may be loitering with an aim of getting a prostitute may also be charged under the same charges. This is, however, a difficult crime for conviction since the prosecutor has to provide enough evidence.
Offenders under the PC 647 (b) may be eligible for different sentencing alternatives, such as a diversion, where defendants get into a guilty or no contest plea. When this happens, the formal sentence is continued for a period of up to eighteen months. During this time, the defendant is expected to meet certain obligations. Such obligations may be, to partake prostitution counseling, community service or submission for an HIV test. The case will be dismissed upon completion of such obligations by the defendant. A diversion is mainly applied to first-time offenses. However, a good attorney may negotiate for you to get a diversion program even if you have had a previous conviction.
What are The Charges for Prostitution and Solicitation?
Engaging in prostitution and solicitation, and or, agreeing to prostitution is a misdemeanor crime in California. An arrest for prostitution in California can have you liable for different punishments depending on the place of the crime as well your previous history on such crimes. Being arrested should not be a reason for you to assume that you are guilty. You should allow time for evaluation of the facts of your individual case to determine any applicable defenses.
Individuals arrested for prostitution offenses are entitled to fair outcomes. One should, therefore, consider the fair terms in a plea rather than just accepting the punishment. Though one may be charged under any of the three forms of prostitution, the punishment for prostitution does not vary.
Prostitution is also treated as a ‘priorable offense’. As a result, if you are convicted and you are already suffering from a previous conviction, you receive harder punishments for the offense. A prostitution conviction does not carry a compulsory requirement to register as a sex offender. However, depending on the facts of your case, the judge may order that you get registered as a sex offender to act as part of your punishment. The penalties for prostitution conviction are therefore as follows:
If you are convicted for the first time, you may get a six months jail penalty or a fine of up to a thousand dollars ($ 1,000). It is rare for a first-time offender to get a jail term. This is because they do not have a prior conviction. One will typically face three years of probation. The court may refer the victim to take some classes on prostitution counseling. The defendant will also be required to take an HIV test. The way the first offense is handled may also differ in different courts but they basically may be empathetic or a bit lenient.
A person convicted of a second-time offense may face a minimum jail term. The statute requires that any person convicted of second-time prostitution offense receives up to 45-50 days jail term. The defendant will as well face probation with similar terms as the first offense. They must also provide an HIV test and undergo deterrent prostitution classes for counseling.
Offenders under this category must be imprisoned for not less than 90 days. They will get probation, and be required or expected to undergo counseling and an HIV test.
Place of Act
Under the place of the act, one may get their driving license suspended if the act of prostitution was done with the use of a vehicle and within 1000 feet away from a private place of residence. The driver’s driving license will be suspended for not less than 30 days. The license may also be restricted to operate in certain places. One can, therefore, only drive to or in such places. However, where no vehicle was used, this section is not applicable.
Legal Defenses for Prostitution and Solicitation
The following are some of the legal defenses that one may apply if charged with a prostitution offense.
- Specific Intent
The involvement of an individual in requesting for prostitution, giving an offer or asking for prostitution must be driven by specific intent. A person, who is playing or joking with no intentions to engage in prostitution, does not qualify to be charged for solicitation. This is because such a person has no intentions to get involved in prostitution.
- Sexual Exploitation of the Victim
If a minor has been arrested or charged, their defense is viable if he/she is a victim of human trafficking. Such commercial enterprises may offer threats or use force on young women to ensure that they take part in prostitution activities. They may be for exchange for money, citizenship, and shelter among others. This defense is based on the fact that a person cannot establish intent to engage in a crime if they are forced.
The entrapment defense is a well-recognized defense In California. This occurs when police or an undercover officer incites someone to take part in an offense which they would not have taken part in. The defendant is however required to provide evidence to support the defense. As such, some people may term a police operation as an element of entrapment. The defendant has to prove in court that they would not have committed the crime. If an undercover agent tricks the defendant to believe that the officer is a prostitute, this is not regarded as entrapment. The undercover cop just provided an avenue for the defendant to commit the crime. However, the following actions may be regarded as entrapment;
- If the defendant received consistent and repeated requests,
- If the cop appeals to sympathy or friendship,
- Offering a guarantee that the action will not be charged and it is legal.
- Offering extraordinary compensation or benefit,
People with no intention to commit crimes may be lured by “decoy” officers. These officers may dress like a prostitute or a customer trying to get customers. Their enticements and promises may have people falling into entrapment.
- Lack of Strong Evidence
If the evidence provided to prove you guilty is untrustworthy, this can be used as a defense under the PC 647(b). This mostly occurs if the agreement in the allegation was not recorded. It may be hard, therefore, to prove someone is guilty of the crime if the conversation cannot be heard.
- Lack of Sufficient Evidence
Some pieces of evidence may not be enough to convince that someone is guilty. For instance, agreeing on a solicitation or even paying for it might not be considered complete without the evidence that there was the intent to commit the crime.
- Mistake of Fact
It is possible for you to get arrested in the event the police officers believe that your actions were intended for prostitution. If you are able to prove that your actions had no intent for prostitution, you may have the judge drop your charges. For instance, if you stopped to ask for directions from a person who is believed to be a prostitute, you may not be charged for soliciting a prostitute. This is because there was no intent to engage in prostitution.
Other Offenses Related to Prostitution and Solicitation:
- Lewd in public - In addition to prostitution and solicitation charges, one may also be charged with solicitation for engaging in lewd conduct in a public place. This may, for instance, happen if the prostitute and John met at a place like a public park.
- Supervising a prostitute - This means offering assistance to someone to enable them to engage in prostitution.
- Human trafficking
- Pandering and pampering.
Find a Criminal Defense Attorney for Prostitution and Solicitation Near Me
Anyone can, therefore, face prostitution charges in one way or the other. Some of the penalties applied for these charges may be totally unnecessary depending on the facts of your specific case. You, therefore, need to evaluate the most viable defense for your case. To do this, you need the help of a reputable law firm such as Vista Criminal Attorney Law Firm. Our attorneys have the ability to evaluate your prostitution and solicitation case and ensure you get the most favorable terms. You can make a call to our criminal defense lawyer at 760-691-1551 for help and a free case evaluation. We are always ready and willing to work with you. Do not hesitate to communicate with us.