Guide for Navigating Prositution Charges

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Prostitution charges are serious. Our top rated attorneys can help you navigate your case. View our guide for defense.

Los Angeles Prostitution Attorney

California Penal Code §647(b) covers the crime of prostitution. Most people would think of prostitution as the act of the defendant paying someone to have sex with them. However, simply soliciting some to have paid sex, or just agreeing to have paid sex with another, violates California’s prostitution laws. Persons convicted of prostitution in California can face jail time and fines.

Coupled with the effect a conviction on prostitution charges could have on a person’s professional and family life, people charged with prostitution offenses need the help of experienced Los Angeles prostitution attorneys. They need help to protect their rights and get themselves out of a messy situation.

Penal Code §647(b) prohibits someone from engaging in prostitution, agreeing to engage in prostitution or soliciting another person to engage in the act of prostitution.

Prostitution itself is having sexual intercourse or lewd sexual acts with another person in return for money or some other type of compensation.

Lastly, “lewd sexual acts” happen when one person touches the genitals, buttocks or female breasts of another for that person’s or someone else’s sexual gratification.

Engaging in Prostitution

Under §647(b) a person engages in prostitution if she willfully has sexual intercourse with another person or takes part in lewd acts for money or some other compensation (drugs, free housing, etc.).

Soliciting Prostitution

It is also against the law in California to solicit someone to commit the act of prostitution. In order to get a conviction, the prosecutor would have to prove that the defendant solicited someone to engage in the act of prostitution, intending to have paid sex with that person.

Therefore, a couple of drunk college kids asking someone they assume is a prostitute to have sex on a prank, while they’re on the way to another bar, is probably not solicitation of prostitution.

In addition, the case law in California has developed to where simply being in an area known for prostitution, waving at passing cars or standing on a street corner in revealing clothing is not sufficient proof of the intent to engage in prostitution.

Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution

To prove this prostitution offense, the prosecutor must show that the defendant agreed to have paid sex and intended to have paid sex with another. However, in order to get a conviction (and this is where an experienced Los Angeles prostitution attorney can win the day for her client), the prosecutor must prove the defendant did something else to further the act of prostitution. The prosecutor must show the defendant did something more than just agree to have paid sex.

That “extra something” could be giving cash to the other person, driving to a cash machine to withdraw an agreed-upon amount and/or driving to the location where the sex act was to occur.

What Are the Penalties for Prostitution in California?

In California, prostitution is a misdemeanor. Conviction on prostitution charges as a first-time offense can result in up to six months in county jail and up to a $1,000 fine. Repeat convictions require mandatory minimum jail time in county jails.

Persons convicted on prostitution charges are not automatically placed on California’s sex offender list. However, a judge has the discretion to impose that penalty in appropriate cases.

What are the Defenses to Prostitution Charges in California?

There are several defenses experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys can use to defeat prostitution charges.


Arrests for prostitution often happen because of undercover police sting operations. Experienced Los Angeles criminal attorneys know such operations can cause otherwise innocent people being entrapped by the police. Entrapment occurs when the police are too aggressive. They improperly trick or pressure a person into performing a criminal act they would not have done but for the police pressure.

False Accusations

One person falsely accusing another of prostitution is a common occurrence. It can happen when there is a prior relationship between the parties, which has turned sour. Knowing this, a knowledgeable Los Angeles prostitution lawyer can develop a solid defense to the charges.

Lack of Evidence

The criminal act of prostitution in California is more than two people agreeing to having sex. There has to be an agreement to pay and an intent to have sex. Additionally, there must be an overt act showing the act of prostitution was the intent of the parties to the sexual act. An experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer can use the lack of evidence of these elements to get charges reduced or dismissed by a jury.

Are There Lesser Charges for Questionable Allegations of Prostitution?

Prostitution is a misdemeanor. There are no degrees of prostitution or “aggravated” or “minor” prostitution charges. In order to resolve questionable prostitution cases, prosecutors may accept pleas to charges of disturbing the peace (Penal Code §415 PC) or criminal trespass (Penal Code §602).

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you or someone you know are charged with prostitution, you will need the help of experienced Los Angeles prostitution lawyers. Daniel Perlman and Matthew Cohen are experienced Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers at Perlman & Cohen. They will explore all options in crafting a defense to the prostitution charges.

Plea bargaining resolves many criminal cases. Settling a case with a plea bargain saves the defendant legal fees and takes away the uncertainty of a trial. In the right cases, they will negotiate a plea to lesser charges from a position of strength.

Otherwise, they will prepare your case for trial and force the prosecutor to prove every element of the prostitution charges beyond a reasonable doubt. Call them at (310) 299-0062 to set up a free consultation.

They can help you fight the prostitution charges, protect your rights and let you get on with your life.

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