California Solicitation and Prostitution Laws - Penal Code 647
Fortunately, there has been a policy shift in the prosecutor's office in Los Angeles County regarding dealing with solicitation cases in the San Fernando Valley Valley Courts (Van Nuys / San Fernando) and other courts in Downtown LA.
I have recently convinced prosecutors to give my diversionary client sentences on solicitation cases. Getting diversion means you avoid a conviction on your record and is a massive benefit in issues that create such a stigma against you.
Amazingly enough, it is even possible to get your arrest record sealed in a solicitation case in Los Angeles County as part of a new pilot program the courts have implemented for those individuals who qualify.
This is huge because having your case dismissed is not always good enough for people who do not want anyone to know that they were arrested for a solicitation-type offense.
This is such a turnaround from the court's and prosecutor's prior positions related to these cases; it is a whole new ball game and prevents good people from having their life ruined by one of these cases.
Several factors decide whether the prosecutors will demand that clients take a conviction on their record.
However, on the first offense with no other crimes pending, clients now have a chance to avoid a conviction! This is a massive turn of events in this type of case.
To avoid a conviction like this on a person's record is a result that can be a life-changer. I encourage you to come and sit down with me to figure out what your exposure is related to your case and what I can do to minimize the effects of a solicitation case on your life. Your peace of mind and the protection of your record are only a phone call away at (213) 542-0979.
What Are the Key Factors in a Solicitation Case?
To be convicted of solicitation, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you, as the defendant, requested another person to engage in the act of prostitution; that you had intentions to engage in the front of prostitution; and that the other person received and understood the communication that was occurring.
They may even attempt to show you were loitering to commit prostitution. If convicted of solicitation, the penalties can include jail time, a fine, HIV testing, and other requirements that are subject to negotiation by your attorney.
Also, for some sex-related crimes, it is the judge's discretion to require sex offender registration as required by California Penal Code section 290, while other convictions require registration.
Are there typically recordings between police and the accused? This is a good question because if the police had a tape of every solicitation case, it would be straightforward to assess whether the person was innocent or guilty of solicitation of prostitution. It would be easy because there would be no dispute about what was said between the parties.
The crime of solicitation occurs when the defendant agrees to engage in a sexual act for money without being entrapped by the police. Unfortunately, in most cases, I see there is no recording. The police will usually have some wire to hear what is going on, but they do not record the conversation; they write what they heard in their police report.
This makes the case come down to the police's word against the defendant. This is not a fair situation, and I have been in many battles over it on behalf of my clients.
It is unclear why the police refuse to record these alleged conversations. Maybe they do not want anyone to challenge the defendant's arrest, and they figure that if they are the ones saying what happened, they will be successful with a lot more convictions.
Also, I have seen many defendants become wise to what is going on during the conversation and try and back out of proceeding or indicate that they were joking. Since this could be a defense to the crime, the police would not want that on a recording.
Once again, this makes it much harder for the defense to defend the case, and it is another example of why you must have the best criminal defense attorney by your side when you go into court.
What is an Entrapment Defense?
This defense is one of the few defenses that can be utilized in a solicitation of prostitution prosecution. Many of my clients tell me that the women in these solicitation cases come up and engage them in flirtatious conversation. It is not them that initiates anything, and they had no thought of paying anyone for sexual services.
However, if you have money to pay, agree to pay, and follow the undercover police officers' instructions, you will have a tough row to hoe in defending yourself.
The key to the entrapment defense is that you can not be “predisposed” to commit the crime. There can not be evidence that you came to that particular location to solicit a prostitute. The police have to plant the seed and get you involved with something you would have never done, but for their actions and cajoling.
What Must Be Proven for a Conviction?
To convict a person for solicitation, the government must prove the following three elements…
- The person solicited another to engage in the act of prostitution.
- The person intended to engage in the act of prostitution.
- The person communicated their solicitation so that the other party understood.
Many people think they have to “solicit” sex from what would ordinarily be considered a prostitute. This isn't true, as the rules above show. The government defines an act of prostitution as the performance of sexual intercourse, between two persons, for compensation, monetary or otherwise.
Solicitation can occur in either public or private places, and the government must prove that the party acted in a manner specifically intended to solicit sexual intercourse from another.
There are many different ways that an act of prostitution can occur. The crucial thing that the prosecutors would have to prove is that one person offered another person a sex act in exchange for money. If this can be shown, both parties are guilty of solicitation.