Definition and Aspects of Prostitution:
Under California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)), any act of participating in Prostitution is against the law. This means that not only the person exchanging sexual favors for money could be prosecuted, but also the one soliciting it. Paying or offering to pay money for intercourse or lewd acts could be equally prosecuted. Prostitution (PC 647(b)) is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with jail time and severe fines.
California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)) can be broken down into three types of acts:
- Engaging in Prostitution
- Soliciting an act of Prostitution
- Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution
Depending on which of the above the Defendant is accused of, the Prosecution must adjust the elements accordingly.
Children under the age of 18 are also exempt from this statute. If a minor is caught participating in any of the three forms of Prostitution (PC 647(b)), he/she would be sent to temporary custody for up to 15 days with either a family member or an emergency shelter. This provision protects minors who are exposed to sex work from going to juvenile hall or jail in the state of California.
Engaging in Prostitution – Elements:
- The Defendant willfully engaged in sexual intercourse or participated in lewd acts with someone
- The Defendant acted in exchange for money or other compensation
For California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)), a ‘lewd act’ is defined as any act that involves touching buttocks, genitals, or female breasts with the intention of sexual arousal or gratification.
Soliciting an Act of Prostitution – Elements:
- The Defendant petitioned another to engage in Prostitution
- At the time of the incident, the Defendant had the intention of engaging in the act with the other person
To be charged with California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)) for soliciting, the Prosecution has to provide proof of intent. Typically, this intent is shown by offering money or by exchanging other valuables for sexual acts.
However, it is not necessary for the other person to accept the solicitation or be a prostitute. Even if the other party doesn’t agree to the transaction, the soliciting party could be prosecuted.
While proof of intent is required, certain circumstances alone aren’t enough to prove that someone is guilty of Soliciting an Act of Prostitution (PC 647(b)). Such circumstances could include the Defendant being at an area known for Prostitution, waving someone down on the street, or waiting on a street corner in a suggestive outfit.
Agreeing to Engage in Prostitution – Elements:
By simply agreeing to participate in Prostitution, the Defendant would violate California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)) – however, this only applies if he/she meant to follow through with it. Below is what the Prosecution would have to establish:
- The Defendant agreed to an act of Prostitution with someone with the intention of participating
- Additionally, the Defendant did something to further the agreement
Just like with solicitation, a person agreeing to participate has to come with the intention of following through with the act and doing something further than a simple verbal acceptance. The Defendant could further the intention with many things. Still, the most common examples include taking money or payment, traveling to an agreed-upon location, or physically undressing to participate in the act.
Criminal Offenses Related to Prostitution:
Similar or related offenses to California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)), Prostitution:
- Pimping – California Penal Code 266(h) (PC 266(h))
- Lewd Acts in Public – California Penal Code 647(a) (PC 647(a))
- Supervising or Aiding Prostitution – California Penal Code 653.23 (PC 653.23)
Examples of Prostitution:
A man drives by an area well known for Prostitution. He circles around a specific block a couple of times, slowing down to take in the women standing on the sidewalk, talking to each other. This by itself would not constitute an act of soliciting for Prostitution, as the man has not done anything that the Prosecution could build a case on.
However, if the same man pulls up and offers a wad of cash in exchange for a sexual act, he could be charged with California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)).
A seventeen-year-old girl is approached on the streets and offered a large amount of cash by a man in exchange for sexual favors. The man could be charged with California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)) the moment he hands over the money. However, the girl is technically still a minor, and even if she accepts, she would not be criminally prosecuted for the offense. Instead, she would likely be sent to temporary custody in a safe environment.
Defenses for Prostitution:
One of the most commonly used defenses is the lack of evidence against the Defendant. If the agreement or solicitation of Prostitution (PC 647(b)) was not recorded, it is hard to prove it occurred. If the police used an undercover agent, lack of recording or physical evidence could also turn the questioning around into what the officer was trying to hide.
Insufficient evidence is another common defense for Prostitution (PC 647(b)) cases. The burden is on the Prosecution to prove that the Defendant furthered the mere verbal agreement with an additional action. Insufficient evidence refers to actual evidence, such as driving over to a specific agreed-upon location; however, Prosecution also has to prove intent. If the Defendant traveled for a reason not related to Prostitution (PC 647(b)), the case could be dismissed.
As mentioned above, there are many instances where undercover officers try to expose Prostitution in the city. However, if an officer coerces or encourages the occurrence of the crime, entrapment could occur. An experienced defense attorney could help the Defendant get off in these instances or ensure that the penalties are minimalized.
Consequences and Penalty for Prostitution:
California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)) is a misdemeanor offense. While a person convicted would not be charged with a felony, the severity of the punishment depends on the place where the incident occurred, as well as the history of the Defendant.
If this is the first violation of Prostitution (PC 647(b)) the Defendant has on his/her record, the penalty is a jail sentence for up to six months and fined up to $1,000.
For any subsequent offenses, the severity of the punishment increases. Second-time offenders have to spend a mandatory minimum of 45 days in jail. For third or fourth-time offenders, that number rises to 90 days.
In addition to the Defendant’s criminal history, Prostitution (PC 647(b)) committed while using a car within 1,000 ft of a residence could suspend the Defendant’s license for up to 30 days or issue a restricted license for up to six months. A restricted license means that the Defendant could only be permitted to drive to and from his/her place of work or school.
Lastly, certain criminal jurisdictions might also add to the severity of the penalties. As an example, the city of Los Angeles could seize the convicted person’s vehicle.
Prostitution, under California Penal Code 647(b) (PC 647(b)), is a misdemeanor offense that can result in jail time and severe fines, and in certain cases, further restrictions. It is essential that if you or someone you know is charged with Prostitution, you contact an expert attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of sex crime-related cases and speaking English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Penal Code Section 647(b) (PC 647(b)), Prostitution. Book a free consultation today.