Orange County Prostitution Lawyers
California's Legal Definition of Prostitution - Penal Code 647(b)
In California, the criminal charge of prostitution is legally defined as offering or agreeing to any lewd or sexual act for money or other considerations. These other considerations are usually goods or services exchanged instead of money. The charges can be filed against anyone who is involved in the exchange of goods, including prostitutes, “Johns,” and pimps, even if a sexual act did not take place.
A prostitution charge can lead to serious consequences, from jail time to a significant blow to your reputation, and the Orange County courts are not likely to show mercy for a momentary lapse in judgment. That is why you should not hesitate to contact an Orange County prostitution lawyer at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti by calling us at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.
How is a Prostitution Charge Proven in OC?
Prostitution can be charged under California Penal Code 647(b) if someone is accused of:
- Soliciting prostitution
- Agreeing to engage in prostitution
- Engaging in prostitution
To secure a conviction in a prostitution case, the court will have to show:
- You requested to engage in a prostitution act with another person
- You intended to engage in a prostitution act with another person
- The other person was aware of your request for a sexual act
- You agreed to engage in prostitution with another person
- You did something to further the act of prostitution (such as exchange money)
- You engaged in a sex/lewd act for money (sex/lewd act is defined as touching another person's body for sexual arousal)
Who Can Face a Prostitution Charge in Orange County?
A California Penal Code 647(b) charge for prostitution can apply to anyone accused of offering, agreeing to, or engaging in a sexual or lewd act in exchange for money, goods, or services. These charges are usually brought against alleged prostitutes, "Johns" who hire prostitutes, and pimps who employ prostitutes.
It is important to note that all the above parties can also be charged with solicitation for only requesting or offering a sexual act in exchange for compensation. This means you may face criminal charges even if no sexual act occurred, such as if you were messaging someone online or speaking to a prostitute on the street.
Penalties for a Penal Code 647(b) Conviction in Orange County
Charges under Penal Code 647(b) are usually misdemeanors, however, the severity of penalties for a prostitution charge will be based on the accused person's history of prior offenses. If the prosecution successfully convicts you of prostitution or solicitation, then you may face:
- Six months in a county jail;
- A fine of up to $1,000;
- Summary probation; and/or
- Mandatory AIDS testing and attending AIDS education courses.
A second offense can lead to a mandatory minimum of 45 days in a county jail, and subsequent offenses often result in at least 90 days in jail.
However, these charges can become far more serious depending on the circumstances of the crime. For example, if either solicitation or prostitution took place in a vehicle and within 1,000 feet of a residence, then you may also face a license suspension for up to 30 days or a restricted license for up to six months.
In addition, solicitation of a minor is both a state and federal crime, meaning your punishment may be even harsher. A successful conviction can lead to at least 10 years in a federal prison or 30 years if you crossed state or international borders. Depending on the circumstances, you may also be charged with lewd conduct with a minor or molestation.
Legal Defenses for Penal Code 647(b)
The legal defense your OC prostitution defense attorney will use depends on the circumstances of your case. Here are the two most common legal defenses used in Penal Code 647(b) charges:
- Entrapment: in this scenario, law enforcement officials encourage a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expressed not wanting to commit the crime. Many arrests tied to police "sting" operations can fall under an entrapment defense.
- Lack of evidence: an experienced defense attorney may be able to show that the court doesn't have enough evidence of a prostitution crime to convict. Your attorney can provide proof that evidence of a crime is either insufficient or insubstantial.
In addition, under California Senate Bill SB 1322, a minor who is under the age of 18 cannot be charged with prostitution. Instead, they are considered a “commercially sexually exploited child” and may be declared a dependent of the state. The state may take them into temporary custody and has 15 days to place the child with a family.
Immigration Consequences of an OC Prostitution Conviction
A criminal conviction for prostitution under California Penal Code 647(b) has some serious immigration consequences. While a prostitution conviction will not get you automatically deported, some convictions can put your immigration status in trouble.
If your Penal Code 647(b) charge is considered an "aggravated felony" by the court, you may face deportation in a conviction. Aggravated felonies are crimes serious enough to consider deporting the person accused from the country. If your Penal Code 647(b) charge is considered a "crime of moral turpitude," you may also face deportation. These crimes are those that are seen as morally inexcusable, such as paying for sex.
While most people envision prostitution as loitering on a street corner or meeting at a bar, many transactions are handled online nowadays. However, just because solicitation takes place on a dating app, through social media, or escort service does not change the nature of the law. California courts can and will charge you with solicitation if you attempted to procure or offer sexual activities online, which will often include the same penalties as if the act took place offline.
Defending against prostitution or solicitation charges that involved online interaction is a little more difficult, as the district attorney may have a digital copy of your messages. In addition, the individual you may have been messaging could have been a member of law enforcement working on a sting operation, meaning they are extremely interested in securing a conviction against you. However, you may have been a victim of entrapment or other forms of police misconduct, and you should not hesitate to reach out to an experienced attorney for legal aid.
Contact Law Office of Michael L. Guisti
With the knowledge and experience of Law Office of Michael L. Guisti on your side, you may be able to lower or get your charges dropped. Our Irvine defense attorneys have helped many people facing these charges secure their freedom. Call us to find out how we can be there for you. Law Office of Michael L. Guisti can be reached at (714) 530-9690 or toll-free at (888) 478-8999.
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.