Being arrested for solicitation is embarrassing. That’s why you need to be represented by an attorney that has the legal experience to get a charge of solicitation dismissed or reduced, and protect your reputation. Solicitation is the crime of seeking, agreeing, or engaging in prostitution. In other words, the person asks for, and agrees to pay for a sex act. In California, solicitation is a serious crime, with severe penalties depending on the circumstances; and is governed by PC Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code.
You need an experienced attorney to review the facts, and explain your options.
In today’s world, the internet is used for a wide variety of criminal activity, including prostitution. If you see a post on-line offering sex, and you arrange a time, place, and rate, you can be charged with solicitation, even if you do not actually engage in any sexual act.
In some cases, simply showing up to the location as planned is enough for you to be arrested and charged with solicitation. That’s when you should talk to an experienced attorney to review the facts, and explain your options.
What Penalties am I Facing?
The first offense for solicitation is a misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both. The court can also sentence you to a term of probation.
Also, after multiple convictions for solicitation, a person can be charged with a felony, which would result in harsher sentences if convicted.
Sex Offender List
Although a conviction for solicitation does not normally result in mandatory sex offender registration, in some extraordinary cases, the judge can order you to register as a sex offender if the solicitation was the result of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification.
Under the statute, a person who arranges for an act of prostitution, commonly referred to as “pimping,” can also be charged with solicitation. The charge for solicitation of child prostitution is significantly harsher, and could result in prison terms up to ten years.
Defending Prostitution PC 647(b)
With any criminal case, the available defenses will depend on the facts of the case. An experienced attorney will be able to assess the facts and provide you with the best course of action. For a conviction of solicitation, the prosecution will have to prove the following:
- You solicited, or asked another person to engage in an act of prostitution; and
- You did so with the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution. Under the statute, prostitution is the exchange of a sex act for money, or something of value.
Depending on the facts, you could have a strong defense if the prosecution cannot prove that you had the specific intent to engage in the act. In other words, simply soliciting another person is not enough for a conviction. The prosecution must prove you had specific intent.
Evidence that can prove specific intent include having the exact sum of money agreed upon for the act, or undressing after arriving at the designated meeting point. Courts have held that convictions for solicitation cannot be based on simply on being in an area known for prostitution; flagging down a passing vehicle; or acknowledging or nodding to a person who could be a prostitute.
An experienced attorney can also review the facts to determine whether you have the defense of entrapment. Often, undercover officers act as decoys by posing as prostitutes to facilitate arrests for solicitation. In fact, the majority of arrests for solicitation are the result of undercover operations on the street, or on the internet. While this is legal, there are limits to what the police can do in these sting operations.
For example, law enforcement officials cannot apply undue pressure, use harassment, fraud, flattery, or threats to entice a person to engage in criminal activity that would otherwise not have occurred. In other words, the police officer cannot use overbearing tactics that would cause you to solicit prostitution when you would not have done so absent the impermissible behavior by the officer. Surprisingly, a large number of law abiding citizens are unfairly lured into committing an act of solicitation due to the words or acts by an experienced undercover police officer. This could be considered entrapment, and is a valid defense.
Reduction, Dismissal and Expunging the Charge
In addition to preparing a defense, your attorney should also negotiate with the prosecutor for a possible charge reduction. Commonly, solicitation charges may be reduced to disturbing the peace or criminal trespass. This would ensure that your criminal record does not indicate any convictions for solicitation, which may be embarrassing if a background check is conducted for employment.
No one wants to be convicted of any crime, particularly a crime like solicitation which may have significant stigma attached, and could cause embarrassment.
A good defense attorney will also interview you to determine whether there are general defenses available such as insufficient evidence, mistake, or a violation of your due process or substantive constitutional rights. That is why it is important to contact an attorney immediately after an arrest, and schedule a consultation so that you are able to provide accurate information as soon after the events as possible.
Acts of prostitution have been recorded since ancient times, and has been criminalized for centuries. In the past, acts of solicitation and prostitution were limited to dark streets, back alleys, and houses of ill repute. Today, however, prostitutes advertise on the internet, and that has caused an increase in charges for solicitation. Another reason for the increase is that law enforcement can easily set up sting operations using fake advertisements, and yield a large number of arrests.
Remember that simply asking, or even agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution is not enough for a conviction for solicitation unless there is proof of a specific intent to engage in prostitution. Also, you should remember that a conviction for solicitation does not require actual participate in a sex act.
A conviction for solicitation, or even just an arrest, is extremely embarrassing, and you should avoid situations where you could be wrongly arrested for solicitation. Moreover, if you do engage in conduct that suggests solicitation, and are arrested, make sure to consult an experienced criminal attorney immediately to discuss your options.
We’re Here to Help
A criminal conviction for prostitution is not something you should take lightly. Not only do you stand to face a number of legal penalties, but you could also face other long-lasting consequences to your reputation. We cannot stress enough the importance of retaining a lawyer to fight your case ASAP. We’re here to help. Give us a call if you’ve or your loved one has been arrested in Southern California.
Need a Sex Crime Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 17 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.