Prostitution, Solicitation, and What California Criminal Law Thinks of It.

Updated: Apr 22

Prostitution Is Considered Illegal In California

Prostitution charges include the act of having sex for money and the act of soliciting. If you are charged with solicitation, you must be aware of the details of the crime as well as the possible consequences. Contact an experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyer right away if you've been charged with solicitation.

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What is the difference between prostitution and solicitation?

In California, it is illegal to engage in prostitution under Penal Code 647(b). This means it's against the law to have sexual relations or commit a lewd act with another person in exchange for money or some other kind of remuneration. It's also illegal to consent to perform a prostitution act (even if it never takes place) or solicit another person to perform a prostitution act.

As a result, the rule applies to a wide range of cases, including:

  • having sex with someone for a fee;

  • supplying an individual with drugs in return for oral sex;

  • a woman agreeing to let a man fondle her bare breasts in exchange for money;

  • responding to a paid sexual activity advertising on the internet.

A conviction for this type of crime on your record will hurt your job prospects and cause immigration problems for non-citizens. You don't want a single indiscretion to have an impact on the rest of your life. An allegation of prostitution or solicitation is serious, and it can result in serious penalties; if you are facing charges, you should consult with a California Criminal Defense Attorney.

Local police and prosecutors in California are strictly implementing criminal legislation to reduce the level of prostitution and prostitution solicitation in order to satisfy business owners and residents in neighborhoods where sex workers and "Johns" are soliciting prostitution in public. California Penal Code 647(b) specifies solicitation for prostitution and prostitution, as well as the criminal penalties for these crimes, as discussed below.

Of course, while our government is "cracking down" on crime or specific criminal activity that has increased in a Los Angeles area, there will be instances of overzealous police officers arresting innocent people or arresting those for which the evidence was inadequate. Similarly, some prosecutors may be influenced by political pressure to file criminal charges and seek convictions in cases where they are not legally or ethically justified.

The good news is that after hearing the evidence of a case, many prosecutors in Los Angeles cities are reasonably objective. A prosecution may also be dismissed by different legal vehicles such as informal or formal diversion, reduction to an infraction, or, in some cases, outright dismissal if the prosecutor feels the charges were not warranted in the first place. Of course, such results are not probable in any case, as each case has its own set of facts, various strengths of proof, and individual defendants with diverse backgrounds.

Prostitution Solicitation in California

Soliciting a prostitute means you've asked someone else to perform a lewd act or engage in sexual intercourse in return for money. If you are 18 years old or older and you solicited another person to conduct sexual intercourse or participate in a lewd act in return for some reward, including money, or you intended to engage in prostitution after the solicitation, you can be convicted and arrested for soliciting prostitution.

The prosecutor must show that there was a real motive to engage in prostitution in order to obtain a conviction of solicitation. There must be proof that an offer to exchange money or some kind of compensation for a lewd act or sexual activity was made with the intent of doing so.

An individual cannot be accused or convicted of solicitation for prostitution merely because they were wearing such clothing or standing in a place known for prostitutes. To be convicted or found guilty of solicitation. However, no sexual act must be proved, as the prosecution merely has to demonstrate that the defendant was solicited to participate in the act of prostitution.

Prostitution solicitation may be levied against a prostitute or a "john" (or agreeing to engage in prostitution). It doesn't matter who suggested the marriage. Consider one of our prescreened California Lawyers in your California Attorney Search.

Definition of the Lewd Act in Relation to Prostitution

Any type of behavior that involves touching the buttocks, genitals, or female breast of either the "John" or the prostitute with a part of the other individual's body for the purpose of sexually gratifying or sexually arousing any individual involved is considered a lewd act as specified for the crime of prostitution.

  • While many people associate the word "lewd acts" with child sex crimes like sexually assaulting a child or child molestation, it is often used in the legislative elements or definitions of other crimes like prostitution.

  • A lewd act, according to California Penal Code 647(a), is not restricted to children; if you masturbate in a strip club or at an adult movie with other people present, you might be in violation.

With regard to the crime of prostitution, "John" is described as follows:

A 'john' is a person who agrees to pay a prostitute money or other reward in exchange for engaging in a lewd act or sexual intercourse with her (or asks to engage in the act, if the charge is for solicitation). If you're facing allegations of solicitation for sex, having a good understanding of what's legal and what's not may help. The word "sexual act" may refer to either sexual intercourse or a lewd act. The term 'willfully' refers to doing something knowingly (on purpose) but not actually knowing that what you were doing was illegal.

Prostitution and Solicitation Laws in California

A prostitute is described as anyone who engages in lewd acts or sexual intercourse with another person in exchange for some sort of remuneration, including money. This charge is focused on three basic violations under California Penal Code 647(b):

  • You've been busted for prostitution.

  • Prostitution is described as willfully or purposely engaging in sexual intercourse or committing a lewd act in exchange for any kind of remuneration, including property.

  • You've decided to become a prostitute.

  • The amendment to Penal Code 647 agrees to indulge in prostitution (b). Since this penalty is for 'agreeing' to engage in the act, it differs somewhat from soliciting prostitution.

  • The court must prove the following if you are charged with agreeing to engage in prostitution:

  • In return for some kind of compensation, including money, you agreed to engage in lewd conduct or sexual intercourse with another person.

  • You had a particular goal in mind when you did it.

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  • You committed a prostitution-related act.

  • Such as giving, receiving, or procuring money as payment, or you traveled to a pre-arranged location to engage in prostitution.

  • Having, or being in possession of, things like a "client book" or condoms will help your case. However, these are insufficient proof to convict you of a prostitution crime on their own.


Soliciting a prostitute entails asking someone to engage in sexual activity or a lewd act with you in return for some kind of payment, including money. (In this case, the defendant is the one who makes the request.)

The prosecution must establish the following:

  • You asked for another individual to join you in prostitution.

  • You decided to take part in the activity.

  • your appeal or solicitation was answered by the other party.

Penalties for Prostitution Solicitation

In California, soliciting for sex and engaging in prostitution are both illegal and punishable as misdemeanors. If convicted of these charges, you can face the following penalties:

  1. Jail time of up to six months

  2. A fine is possible

  3. If you are a repeat offender, your sentence could be lengthened.

Depending on the circumstances of your detention, you can face additional penalties as a result of this charge. If you were found in prostitution in a truck, you might lose your vehicle because it was legally branded as a "nuisance." If the act of prostitution occurs within 1,000 feet of a home, the driver's license could be restricted as well.

If you are convicted under Penal Code 647(b), you are not required to register as a sex offender. However, depending on the evidence presented in your case, the judge can order this registration as part of your punishment. If this is attempted, you will need the assistance of an experienced California Criminal Defense Attorney. The repercussions of having to register as a sex offender will last a lifetime, so you'll want to hire an California Criminal Law Attorney who will help you fight this charge.

The legal consequences of soliciting for prostitution are not nearly as severe as the social consequences. You could face job repercussions and, in some situations, citizenship repercussions if you have a charge of solicitation for prostitution on your criminal record. Both are apart from the prospect of the police seizing your vehicle and filing a seizure motion if the crime is committed in it.

  • If you're a first-time offender, the punishment should be mild (see the section below on "Diversion"); if you're a second-time offender, the penalty will be moderate; and if you're a third-time offender, the penalty will be extreme. As a first-time offender, the maximum sentence is six months in prison, with fines of up to $1,000, plus penalties and assessments. The judge does not often impose this sentence; in fact, for a first or even second offense, the full penalty is rarely enforced.

  • If diversion is not provided or accessible, the most popular first-time offender plea deal is to change the charges to an infraction for trespassing or to disturb the peace in order to escape a misdemeanor conviction on your record. This plea and amendment will aid you in the future if a prospective employer or landlord conducts a background check on you. Of course, the best possible result is a diversionary dismissal or an acquittal after a cour