Prostitution and Solicitation for Prostitution
Prostitution is the act of illegally exchanging sexual services for money, or anything of monetary value, often times drugs. California Penal Code 647(b) states that it is illegal to engage in prostitution, to solicit prostitution, and to agree to engage in prostitution. If convicted of any of these charges for the first time a defendant could face:
- Up to six months in a county jail
- Up to $1,000 in fines
- Suspended driver’s license for up to 30 days (if incident occurred in vehicle or within 1,000 feet of a residence)
- Restricted driver’s license for up to 6 months (if incident occurred in vehicle or within 1,000 feet of a residence)
- Forced to register as a sex offender (under extreme circumstances)
Penal Code 647(b) is a priorable offense, meaning that with each subsequent offense the charges must become more harsh.
- A mandatory 45-day jail sentence in a county jail (2nd offense)
- A mandatory 90-day jail sentence in a county jail (3rd offense)
- With each conviction the fines are likely to increase as well
In order for a defendant to be prosecuted of engaging in an act of prostitution the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant did in fact engage in sexual intercourse or sexual services in the exchange of money. Engaging in prostitution can either mean the act of sexual intercourse or lewd acts; lewd acts include anything that is intended to deliberately arouse another.
In order to be convicted of solicitation of prostitution the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you solicited (request, ask for, seek) sexual acts in exchange for money.
Furthermore, in order to be convicted of agreeing to engage in prostitution the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you agreed to engage in an act of prostitution for the exchange of money and that you performed an act of furtherance. Furtherance means that you performed an action, or made a request that confirmed the act of prostitution will take place, for example you went to the ATM and withdrew the exact agreed up on amount.
It’s important to note that when an officer performs a sting operation, for example, a female officer posing as a prostitute, all the defendant has to do is agree to exchange money for sex. There does not have to be an exchange of funds, but merely an agreement.
Techniques Used by Attorneys to ReduceCharges or Dismiss Cases
The problem for prosecutors when trying to convict lies in the inability to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that prostitution or solicitation had occurred. For instance, if a defendant had condoms and a large amount of money in his/her pocket that is strong evidence and can be used against a defendant, but it is not enough evidence in and of itself to convict.
Sting operations are common in areas where prostitution is prevalent. A female officer will dress as a prostitute, or less commonly, a male officer will pose as a client, and attempt to have a defendant agree to pay money or agree to perform a lewd act in exchange for money. The posing officers will be wired to record the incident and often times an inconspicuous police vehicle will be video recording as well. These pieces of evidence are then used in court.
The problem for the prosecutor is when these valuable pieces of evidence are not available. For instance, if the officers did not record the statements or if the video tapes don’t show a specific exchange of money then it becomes difficult for a conviction. Juries prefer to see and hear convincing evidence, but if that evidence is not available then it becomes increasingly difficult.
If there are not explicit recordings or video tapes then often times the case will be dismissed or the charges will be reduced.
Sting operations bring forth another problem for the prosecutor. If the female officer posing as a prostitute is aggressive enough to make a defendant act in a way that he would otherwise would not have acted, then the defendant can claim that he was the victim of entrapment. If counsel can prove that the female officer coerced the defendant into acting in an unnatural manner then it’s likely the case will be dropped.
Apart from sting operation faults, there are other ways to have a case dismissed or charges reduced. For instance, counsel can say the act was a big mistake and misunderstanding. This approach is often utilized in cases regarding escort services. If a defendant calls an escort service and asks for an escort, but doesn’t explicitly state that her services are sexual in nature then it’s possible to have the case dismissed. Perhaps the defendant called the escort service for a friend and not necessarily for a sexual partner.
If there is insufficient evidence it is likely that a case will be dismissed. This doesn’t mean that the prosecutor does not have evidence, it just means that the evidence that the prosecutor does have is not clear enough to convict. For instance, if the recordings of a sting operation do not explicitly state an amount of money, or an explicit agreement for sexual activity. Again, juries like to hear and see explicit evidence and not do not like to base their decision solely on police statements.
Pimping and Pandering – Penal Code 266(h)and 266(i)
Pimping and pandering laws were introduced into California judicial system in an attempt to reduce the amount of prostitution. With this being said, the courts take these crimes very seriously. California Penal Code 266(h) states that it is illegal to pimp in the state of California and defines pimping as the act of collecting some or all of a prostitute’s pay. Pandering, California Penal Code 266(i) , pertains to laws that discourage recruiting or encouraging someone to become a prostitute. Both of these crimes are felonies and if convicted of either Penal Code 266(h) or Penal code 266(i) one could face 3, 4 or 6 years in a state prison.
Importance of Seeking Counsel
It is not necessary to seek counsel in prostitution cases but it is a good idea and can save you a lot of time and money. Criminal defense attorneys know how the system works and can often times have the charges reduced or the cases dropped all together by knowing how the ins-and-outs of the system. For instance, it is not uncommon for the charges to be reduced to trespassing or disturbing the peace which are not priorable offenses in replace of a Penal Code 647(b) which is a priorable offense.
Criminal defense attorneys can talk to judges and prosecutors and try to have the case dropped or the charges reduced based upon a clients criminal record. If a clients criminal record is short then the attorney can claim that it was a brief lapse in judgement and that he or she shouldn’t be charged with a priorable offense. Also, if a client has a family and a job the attorney can state a conviction of Penal Code 647(b) could ruin his or her life and that a conviction is not appropriate. By using a criminal defense attorney, like Seppi Esfandi, this issue can be handled discretely and promptly with little effect on you. Seppi Esfandi is a Criminal Defense Specialist with extensive practice in prostitution cases and has a great record of having theses cases dismissed.
1 Who solicits or who agrees to engage in or who engages in any act of prostitution. A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution. No agreement to engage in an act of prostitution shall constitute a violation of this subdivision unless some act, in addition to the agreement, is done within this state in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act. As used in this subdivision, “prostitution” includes any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration.
2 (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who,knowing another person is a prostitute, lives or derives support ormaintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of theperson’s prostitution, or from money loaned or advanced to or charged
against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house orother place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or whosolicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, isguilty of pimping, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment
in the state prison for three, four, or six years.
(b) Any person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, livesor derives support or maintenance in whole or in part from theearnings or proceeds of the person’s prostitution, or from moneyloaned or advanced to or charged against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or who solicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, when the prostitute is a minor, is guilty
of pimping a minor, a felony, and shall be punishable as follows:
(1) If the person engaged in prostitution is a minor 16 years of age or older, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.
(2) If the person engaged in prostitution is under 16 years of age, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.
3 (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who does any of the following is guilty of pandering, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years:
(1) Procures another person for the purpose of prostitution.
(2) By promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades, or encourages another person to become a prostitute.
(3) Procures for another person a place as an inmate in a house of prostitution or as an inmate of any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state.
(4) By promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades, or encourages an inmate of a house of prostitution, or any other place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed, to remain therein as an inmate.
(5) By fraud or artifice, or by duress of person or goods, or by abuse of any position of confidence or authority, procures another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to enter any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution.
(6) Receives or gives, or agrees to receive or give, any money or thing of value for procuring, or attempting to procure, another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution.
(b) Any person who does any of the acts described in subdivision (a) with another person who is a minor is guilty of pandering, a felony, and shall be punishable as follows:
(1) If the other person is a minor 16 years of age or older, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.
(2) If the other person is under 16 years of age, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.