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Solicitation of Prostitution, PC 647(b)

California law defines the act of prostitution as offering or agreeing to lewd and/or sexual acts with someone in exchange for monetary compensation or other considerations. These other considerations can mean other goods and services such as exchanging sex for heroin or other illicit drugs. 

Cases of prostitution and related charges are often aggressively pursued because of pressure from the political and social atmosphere. Due to this pressure, local law enforcement agencies tend to invest significant resources in creating vice squads. So, if you are facing possible charges under PC 647(b), prostitution or related charges, finding a top notch criminal defense lawyer is highly recommended to protect your rights.

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What does prostitution under Penal Code (PC) 647(b) entail

Under California-PC 647(b), prostitution is prohibited and those accused of such acts can be arrested and charged if any of the following were discovered to have taken place: 

  • a person(s) engaged in the act of prostitution,
  • a person(s) solicited (offered) or agreed to engage in the act of prostitution. 

Related offenses to prostitution and PC 647(b) are as follows:

  • Lewd conduct in public, PC 647(a)
    • This is when a person solicits another person or engages another person in sexual conduct while in a public space. 
    • Or if a person agrees to commit an act of prostitution in a public place. 
  • Pimping and Pandering, PC 266h and 266i
    • Pimping means that someone is capitalizing off of the prostitute’s pay. The pimp is either collecting part or all of the prostitute’s pay. In some instances, they also help to find the prostitute a customer, also known as a “john.” 
    • Pandering means that you committed the crime of encouraging others to become prostitutes. This includes encouraging a prostitute to remain one or you make another person available for committing the act of prostitution. 
  • Loitering to commit prostitution, PC 653.22
    • If the crime of PC 653.22 is committed, it means that you were loitering in a public place with the intent to engage in acts of prostitution. 
  • Supervising and aiding a prostitute, PC 653.23
    • This is a crime that is related to pimping and pandering. PC 653.23 includes someone who supervised or helped aid in the act of prostitution.
    • More specifically, an instance of this crime is if someone actually drives a friend to an area where they intend on hiring a prostitute. If the driver knew full well what their friend was going to do, they could be charged with the act of aiding in prostitution. 

The Prosecution

California law defines sexual or lewd acts as “someone that purposely touches body parts of another person, or both parties involved, for the purpose of sexual arousal." In order for the prosecution to prove the defendant is guilty under PC section 647(b), they must first prove and provide enough evidence of these 3 actions: 

  • Solicitation of prostitution;
    • solicitation of lewd acts or sexual intercourse was requested in exchange for monetary compensation, AND
    • the defendant intended to engage in the act of prostitution with someone else, AND
    • the request for prostitution was communicated clearly and received by someone else. 
  • Agreeing to engage in prostitution; 
    • an agreement to engage in lewd acts or sexual intercourse in exchange for monetary compensation, AND
    • the defendant agreed to engage in prostitution with someone else, AND
    • the defendant intended to engage in prostitution with someone else, AND
    • the defendant did something that furthered the commission for the act of prostitution. 
  • Engaging in prostitution;
    • the defendant willfully engaged in sexual and/or lewd acts for money. 

Who can get charged under PC 647(b) for prostitution

There is more than one person that can be arrested under PC section 647(b) and they are as follows: 

  • the prostitute who committed the sexual act in exchange for money or other goods or services, and
  • the “john” or customer who paid for the act of prostitution, and/or
  • the “middleman” depending on the situation. The middleman can be considered the “pimp” or “supervised or aided in the act of prostitution.” 

Legal Defenses

If you happen to be charged with prostitution under PC 647(b), finding the right criminal defense lawyer can help get your charges reduced or sometimes dismissed. With a skilled legal defense team, they can utilize the most common methods to help you fight prostitution charges and related offenses. The following are some examples of these methods and can help shed some light on the legal options one may have. 

  • Entrapment is when a law enforcement officer or other government agents “induces or encourages” someone to commit a crime, ignoring the potential criminal’s express objections to the deed. 

A skilled criminal defense lawyer can effectively use this method of defense if they can prove that the criminal act was set forth by law enforcement/government agents. This helps to prove that the crime did not originate from the accused because the situation was set-up and put in motion by the police/government agents. 

For example, a law enforcement team decides to set up a sting on social media to combat online prostitution. They go to a suspected media page and begin messaging with the woman who runs the page. The undercover cop insists that they meet and sets up a location and time. The woman had objected twice to meeting him, but eventually gave in when he proposed they see a movie instead. 

They meet and go to the movie after which the undercover cop convinces her to go to his hotel room. Feeling like she was having a great date, she agrees and they go to the room. He then places money on the nightstand and asks her to have sex. Unaware that the money was meant as “payment” for the sex, she begins to undress and soon afterward, he reveals he is a cop and arrests her. 

  • Insufficient evidence does not mean there is not any evidence; it just means there is not sufficient evidence to prove a crime was committed. 

An efficient, top notch criminal defense attorney can significantly impact a prostitution charge by showing that the prosecution has insufficient evidence to convict the defendant. They can show that not all the elements of the crime were met by proving that the accumulated evidence submitted by the prosecution was either insubstantial or insufficient. 

For example, proving that the act of prostitution took place can be difficult without any sort of video, audio, or other digital recorded evidence. This can be an effective defense for insufficient evidence and/or lack of evidence because it can help to create reasonable doubt when an undercover officer wears a wire but fails to record the encounter with the suspected prostitute.  Also, a skilled defense attorney should look into the possibility of an ambiguous discussion between the undercover officer and the prostitute.  What was the extent of the exchange of sex for money?  What were the facts to support that there was an actual agreement?

Penalties for crimes under California-PC 647(b) 

The solicitation of prostitution, agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, and prostitution are all considered misdemeanors under PC 647(b). If convicted of these charges you could face these penalties: 

  • up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
  • up to 6 months in a county jail.
  • For a 2nd offense of solicitation/prostitution, you face a minimum of 45 days in county jail.
  • For the 3rd offense of solicitation/prostitution, you face a minimum of 90 days in county jail. 
  • If these acts of prostitution were committed using a car or within 1,000 feet of a home/residential area these additional penalties could apply:
    • driver’s license suspension for up to 30 days, or
    • a restricted license can be issued for up to 6 months. 

Other Penalties for Related Offenses

  • Lewd conduct in public, PC 647(a), is often charged along with prostitution; however, it is not as serious as prostitution/solicitation. It is also difficult for the prosecution to prove because they must first prove that your “lewd conduct” actually took place in a public space. In addition, they must prove that you knew or should have known that it would offend other people who were present in the area while said conduct was taking place. 
  • Pimping and Pandering, PC 266h and 266i, are both felonies and the penalties are:
    • 3, 4, or 6 years in a California state penitentiary. 
  • Supervising or aiding a prostitute, PC 653.23 and loitering to commit prostitution, PC 653.22 are misdemeanors. The penalties are the same as prostitution/solicitation which are:
    • up to $1,000 in fines, and/or
    • up to 6 months in county jail. 

You should not have to face charges of solicitation of prostitution under PC 647(b) without the proper legal representation. If you are in need of a highly skilled and experienced criminal defense attorney who knows how to handle cases like prostitution or other related offenses, then do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum. Located in San Diego, we can assist you in cases that stretch from San Diego county to Los Angeles and Orange County. 

The legal and criminal defense team at the Law Offices of Anna R. Yum is dedicated to fighting for the best possible outcome in each case.  Contact them for a free consultation by calling 619-233-4433 or by clicking here for their online information. 

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