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In California and throughout the United States, sex between consenting adults is perfectly legal, however, once money or something of value is exchanged for sexual favors, the act is automatically considered illegal. Despite being the “oldest profession” in the world, prostitution is criminalized, and anyone who plays a role in the crime, no matter how minor their part, they can be prosecuted in a court of law.
California Penal Code Section 647 (b) prohibits anyone from:
Under California’s prostitution statute, law enforcement can arrest the prostitute, the customer “John,” or where applicable, the middleman or the “pimp.”
A person is guilty of solicitation when he or she agrees to engage in an act of prostitution, with the specific intent to engage in prostitution, and when he or she manifests the acceptance of an offer, or offers to engage in prostitution.
Under §647(b), no agreement to engage in prostitution shall amount to a violation unless some act, in addition to the agreement is done to further an act of prostitution. For example, handing or accepting money for prostitution would be considering “furthering” the crime.
In California, solicitation and prostitution are prosecuted as a misdemeanor for a first offense, punishable by up to six months in jail, or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or both.
If you were caught in a sting operation where vice posed as a prostitute or a John, and you have been charged with solicitation, it is well worth it to fight your charges. If you have a family, a good job, a reputation or a career to protect, having a strong legal defense may help you get a dismissal or a reduction of charges, which can go a long way when facing the possibility of a criminal conviction.
At Okabe & Haushalter, we represent individuals in both solicitation and prostitution charges. If you have been charged with solicitation, there are legal defenses that may help, and these include entrapment, insufficient evidence, or even mistake.