Discreet Confidential Consultation (213) 374-3952


Penal Code 647(b) – Prostitution and Solicitation

California Penal Code 647(b) PC is the statute that makes soliciting prostitution a crime. This law prohibits someone from engaging in any sexual act in exchange for money or forms of compensation or to offer or agree to engage in sexual activity.

Simply put, it is a crime both to commit prostitution and to solicit it. It applies both to the person who offers sexual services (prostitute) for compensation and the person who accepts it (John). 

California Penal Code 647(b) – Prostitution and Solicitation
California Penal Code 647(b) PC makes it a crime to engage in or solicit the act of prostitution.

Notably, you do not have to complete the proposed sex acts to be arrested, charged, and convicted of violating PC 647(b) prostitution laws. Sometimes, prostitutes have “pimps” to handle business and financial matters. They could be prosecuted under pimping and pandering laws defined under Penal Code 266h and 266i PC. 

There are currently legal efforts to legalize prostitution in California under Senate Bill 357, which is motivated by attempts to fight human trafficking, as perpetrators often use fear of arrest as a manipulation tool to keep their trafficking victims under control. 

PC 647(a) says, “An individual who solicits anyone to engage in or who engages in lewd or dissolute conduct in any public place or any place open to the public or exposed to public view.”

Penal Code 647(b) says, “An individual who solicits, or who agrees to engage in, or who engages in, any act of prostitution with the intent to receive compensation, money, or anything of value from another person. 

An individual agrees to engage in the act of prostitution when, with the specific intent to engage so, the individual manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation by another person to engage so, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in the act of prostitution.”

A lewd act is defined as sexual intercourse, anal sex, or oral copulation. It also includes touching the genitals, buttocks, or female breasts of either the prostitute or the customer for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. Touching does not need to be skin-to-skin.

How Does the California Law Define Prostitution?

Penal Code 647(b) defines different types of acts related to the crime of prostitution, such as the following:

  • Soliciting someone to engage in prostitution (sexual intercourse, etc.),
  • Agreeing to engage in prostitution,
  • Engaging someone in the act of prostitution.

Prostitution” means to willfully engage in sexual intercourse or perform a lewd act with another person in exchange for money or other compensation.

Lewd act” means touching someone' genitals, buttocks, or female breasts for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. “Soliciting” means to communicate, by words or conduct, an offer or request to someone to engage in the act of prostitution. 

It also does not matter whether money or other compensation was exchanged in solicitation cases; the solicitation itself is a crime.  By law, you solicit prostitution when you do the following:

  • You request that someone engage in an act of prostitution and
  • You requested with the intent to engage in an act of prostitution with them.

Agreeing” to engage in prostitution means you made a verbal agreement to engage in a sex act with another person, with intent to engage in prostitution, and you took a direct step (overt act) to further the act, such as the following:

  • Handing the prostitute money,
  • Driving to a location to have sex,
  • Going to an ATM to withdraw money to pay for them.
  • Asking the customer to take off their clothes.

Notably, a sexual act between the prostitute and the customer does not have to occur; instead, only an agreement to have sex for compensation was made.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a Prostitution Conviction?

To convict you of violating Penal Code 647(b) prostitution law, the prosecutor must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, including the following:

  • You accepted an offer for sexual services in exchange for money or some other type of compensation (drugs, jewelry, etc.) OR
  • You asked someone to engage in the act of prostitution,
  • The other person received the communication with your request,
  • You intended to carry out the act of prostitution,
  • You performed some overt act in furtherance of the commission of the crime.

PC 647(b) is worded to hold both parties accountable for the act of prostitution and soliciting or agreeing to it. Simply put, both the prostitute, the person receiving payment for sex, and the "John,” the person paying for sex, can be charged with the same crime for the same act. 

For example, suppose a man approaches a woman on a street corner and asks her "how much" to have sexual intercourse, and she gives him a price. In that case, they both could be charged with violating Penal Code 647(b) PC.

What Are the Penalties for PC 647(b)? 

If you are convicted of violating California Penal Code 647(b) prostitution laws, a misdemeanor crime, you are facing the following punishments:

  • Up to six months (180 days) in county jail and
  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • Misdemeanor summary probation,
  • Sex offender registration is NOT required.  

Notably, a second or subsequent prostitution offense carries the following punishments: 

  • Second offense carries a mandatory minimum of 45 days in county jail and up to 180 days,
  • Third offenses or more carry a mandatory minimum 90-day jail sentence and up to 180 days.
  • Suppose the act of prostitution occurred in a vehicle within 1000 feet of a residential structure. In that case, the judge could suspend your driver's license for up to 30 days.

Further, in addition to any county jail sentence, you could be placed on informal probation with terms and conditions, such as restraining orders and monetary fines. 

You might be ordered to take an HIV education class and submit to AIDS testing. In some cases, there might be negative consequences for people who hold a professional license, such as a doctor, lawyer, etc.

What Are Related Crimes? 

Several California crimes are often charged in connection with Penal Code 647(b) prostitution, including the following:

  • Penal Code 266h PC and 266i PC - pimping and pandering law makes it a crime to profit from the earnings of a prostitute or persuade someone to become or remain a prostitute. These felony crimes carry up to six years in state prison if convicted.
  • Penal Code 653.23 PCsupervise or aid a prostitute law makes it a crime to direct, manage, recruit, or help someone else in committing prostitution or solicitation.
  • Penal Code 236.1 PC - human trafficking prohibits using force, fraud, or coercion to compel another person into prostitution. This felony crime carries up to 12 years in prison if convicted.
  • Penal Code 647(a) PClewd conduct in public is defined as touching your own or another person's private parts or female breasts in public for sexual gratification when you know, or should have known, others were present who would be offended. Lewd conduct in public is a misdemeanor and does not require sex offender registration.
  • Penal Code 314 PCindecent exposure means to willfully expose your naked body or genitals in public to others who would be offended or annoyed. A first offense is a misdemeanor, but subsequent convictions are a felony that requires sex offender registration.
  • Penal Code 602 PC – trespassing.
  • Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace.

What Is the PC 647(b) Defenses?

There are several common strategies that our California sex crime lawyers can use against charges of Penal Code 647(b) soliciting prostitution to obtain the best possible outcome, including the following:

  • Entrapment by police,
  • Insufficient evidence,
  • False allegation.

Perhaps we can argue that you are the victim of police entrapment. Law enforcement officers often set up prostitution sting operations posing as prostitutes to catch "johns" seeking to engage in sex for money.

Defenses for Prostitution and Solicitation

Suppose an undercover cop applies undue pressure to commit a crime you wouldn't have customarily committed. In that case, it might be considered entrapment, and you might be able to avoid a conviction. 

Perhaps we can argue there is insufficient evidence to prove a prostitution crime occurred as prosecutors must show a willingness to convict.

Perhaps we can argue that you were falsely accused. It's not uncommon for people to be wrongfully charged with prostitution. Maybe we can use evidence to prove you did not commit an act of prostitution or solicitation.

Perhaps we can say you were only seeking to have a sexual encounter, but there was no intent to engage in sex in exchange for money. Perhaps we can argue you didn't know they were prostitutes. Maybe we can say there was a lack of understanding, and no agreement was made. Possibly, there was a language barrier.

Perhaps we can negotiate with the District Attorney for reduced charges, case dismissal, or persuade them not to file formal charges (DA reject). Contact us for a free case review. The Hedding Law Firm is based in Los Angeles, CA. 

Related Content:

Contact Us Today

Hedding Law Firm is committed to answering your questions about state or federal sex crime issues in California and throughout the United States.

I'll privately discuss your case with you at your convenience. All consultations are free, discreet, and confidential. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.