We are often asked by people how they can protect their record after getting charged with California Penal Code 647(b) solicitation of prostitution, which is engaging in sexual conduct in exchange for money or other compensation. It's a crime both to commit prostitution and to solicit it.
In other words, this statute applies to the person offering sexual services and the person who accepts them, typically called a “john.” You don't have to complete the proposed sex acts to be arrested, charged, and convicted of PC 647(b) prostitution. This means just the offer and acceptance are a crime.
Many prostitutes have a “pimp” who handles business and financial issues. They are typically charged under the felony Penal Code 266h and 266i PC pimping and pandering laws.
To be convicted for soliciting prostitution in violation of PC 647(b), the prosecutor has to prove that you asked someone to engage in the act of prostitution, had the intent to carry it out, and the other person received the communication with your request for sex.
Also, there has to be an overt act, such as discussing money in exchange for sex or making an ATM money withdrawal for it. These are called the “elements of the crime.”
If convicted of violating this misdemeanor law, you face up to six months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000. Further, you could be convicted of other prostitution-related crimes depending on the case details. Our California sex crime defense attorneys will take a closer look below.
What Are the Related Crimes for Prostitution?
There are numerous other related crimes are often charged in connection with Penal Code 647(b) PC prostitution, such as:
- Pimping and pandering under Penal Code 266h PC and 266i PC make it a felony crime to profit from prostitution or to recruit someone into prostitution. Both are felonies that are punishable by up to 6 years in prison;
- Human trafficking under Penal Code 236.1 PC prohibits using force, fraud, or coercion to compel someone into prostitution. This felony offense is punishable by up to 12 years in prison;
- Loitering with intent to commit prostitution under Penal Code 653.22 PC makes it a crime to loiter in a public place to commit prostitution. This misdemeanor crime is punishable by up to 6 months in jail;
- Penal Code 261.5 PC – statutory rape,
- Penal Code 314 PC – indecent exposure;
- Penal Code 647(a) PC – lewd conduct in public;
- Penal Code 653.23 PC – supervise or aid a prostitute;
- Penal Code 602 PC – trespassing;
- Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace.
Can You Get a Diversionary Program?
Many clients I represent get arrested for solicitation of prostitution, and immediately, they've brought a mark on their record because of that arrest.
If the police take their fingerprints and book them, they will be there for everybody to see who can access their record. So, of course, people are concerned.
Maybe they want to coach their kids in sports. Perhaps they want to get a specific job where they have to get live scanned, and now this arrest for solicitation of prostitution may come up. Also, if you get convicted, they'll see what you were convicted of and what the punishment was.
Trying to protect that is a challenging thing. It's not an impossible thing, but it's not easy. It used to be impossible to defend it years ago.
I've been doing this for 30 years, so I've handled many solicitations of prostitution cases. In Los Angeles County, once you got that conviction, there wasn't much you could do to it except expunge it or dismiss it.
Still, people would see you were arrested for that, and you ended up getting the case dismissed. Which was, of course, better than nothing.
But then, over the last five years, and I'm making this post in November 2022, LA county has changed its stance on this, and if you have no criminal record and depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, you may have a chance to get a diversionary program. It's called the "Prostitution Diversion Program" and is available for first-time offenders with no record of violence or domestic violence.
If you can complete it over a certain period – a year, for example – it's possible to get your conviction dismissed and get it sealed and destroyed where nobody can find it.
What About a Mitigation Package?
These are what we try to do in these types of cases. We can't do it in every case. We have to look at the specific facts and circumstances of your particular case before we really can tell you whether or not it makes sense in your case to get the matter sealed and destroyed, dismissed, and protect your criminal record.
One of the things that we do is sit down with you and talk to you about it, and we try to put together a mitigation package.
First, of course, we're going to see if we can win the case outright, but many times now, they're tape-recording the interaction between you and the undercover female police officer, so they have everything they need to get you on a case.
Sometimes they mess up, and they don't do it the right way, in which case, we've got the recording that we can use to either get a dismissal in front of a jury or convince the prosecutors to dismiss the case. But, if they've got you on recording, now we have to contend with the case:
- We get character letters;
- We find out about your job;
- We look at your criminal record;
- We try to use all these beneficial and positive things to help you.
I sit down with the prosecutor and convince them to give you a break to give you the benefit of the doubt and make an effort to try to get this diversionary program so that you can complete everything and end up with a clean record in the end.
That's the goal. As I said, we can't do it in every case, but if you want the best – if you want somebody that has done hundreds of these cases to a successful conclusion, you've come to the right place.
Pick up the phone now. Make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm is in Los Angeles and offers a free case evaluation via phone or contact form.