Prostitution is addressed by California Penal Code section 647(b) which actually covers three crimes: 1) the act of prostitution itself, 2) solicitation for prostitution, and 3) agreeing to engage in prostitution. The two latter acts are much more commonly charged than the prior. In fact police departments’ vice squads spend an inordinate amount of resources on conducting sting operations, which frequently involve undercover officers posing as prostitutes or jons. Prostitution is punishable by up to six months in the county jail. Where there is a prior conviction for the same, jail time is mandatory.

Contrary to popular belief, the police do not have to tell you that they are officers if asked. Instead a vice officer will likely prompt you to engage in conversation concerning a price for a given sex act and then direct you down the street where a team of officers are lying in wait.

Numerous defenses lend themselves to someone charged with prostitution. Entrapment, which focuses on the overreaching and cajoling conduct of police officers, may be successfully argued by a skilled defense attorney. There are also frequent evidentiary issues. In practice here in Los Angeles, vice units monitor the communications of the undercover officers but do not record them, this may raise the specter of doubt as to whether an agreement was actually communicated between the officer and the accused.

Where a defense is not available at trial, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the court to reduce the crime to award probation. In some circumstances, and in certain counties, a skilled defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor to allow the defendant to enter misdemeanor diversion pursuant to Penal Code chapter 2.9 section 1001.5 et seq. In this case, a defendant may be able to suspend prosecution while the defendant completes community service or a counseling program.

The information contained on this website represents opinion only and is not intended to, nor should be relied on as legal advice of any kind. Should you wish to consult with an attorney, contact an attorney at the Law Office of Jesse Terrell at (323) 638-4712.
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