In Los Angeles, both men and women can be charged with prostitution under a wide variety of circumstances. If you have been arrested for prostitution, you need good legal counsel. Even a first offense can carry up to 6 months in jail, and if you have prior charges you could face much stiffer penalties, including high minimum jail sentences. In some cases, a prostitution charge could even affect your driver’s license. Don’t let this charge ruin your life—speak to a Los Angeles prostitution lawyer and fight it.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we help people in your situation. We understand the laws around prostitution, and how to fight them. Our experienced legal team will listen to you, work for you, and do everything possible to win your case for you—with a strong record of success. In many cases, we can get prostitution charges dismissed for lack of evidence or win your case outright. Let us give you a free consultation to help you. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What counts as prostitution in Los Angeles?
California has a single law that criminalizes both the act of prostitution and the at of hiring or soliciting a prostitute (“solicitation”). However, the law tends to be used more against the alleged prostitutes than the clients or “johns.” The law, California Penal Code Section 647(b), also provides a very broad definition of prostitution—one designed to catch and convict as many people as possible. This means that a surprising number of situations can be considered “prostitution” even if you thought what you were doing was legal.
You could be charged with solicitation in two main situations:
Agreeing to engage in “lewd acts” or sexual intercourse for money (or other favors)
Actually engaging in lewd acts or sexual intercourse for money (or other favors)
This means that you can be charged even if you were not “caught in the act.” Simply agreeing to the arrangement is grounds for arrest.
Likewise, money is not the only kind of arrangement that counts as prostitution. You can be charged and convicted if you accepted gifts, drugs, rent or a place to stay, or any other consideration. Basically, if you received something of value in exchange for a sexual act, you could be convicted. This is true even if the act was not actual sex—letting someone watch you masturbate, for example.
Depending on the situation you were in, you may also be charged with loitering with intent to commit prostitution or supervising or aiding a prostitute.
However, just because you were arrested does not mean you will be convicted. There are many ways to fight a prostitution charge.
What if I was caught in a sting/undercover officer?
Stings are legal, and police are allowed to lie to you. They can say they are not police, and they can even be the first ones to solicit the act prostitution. Although shady, none of this violates your legal rights.
However, it is possible for police to cross a line known as “entrapment.” Entrapment means that:
The police manufacture or create an illegal situation,
When the person involved would not have otherwise broken the law
In other words, if you would not normally have considered or consented to a prostitution arrangement, but an undercover officer was so aggressive, pushy or insistent that you finally gave in and agreed, that is entrapment. The proper purpose of an undercover officer is to find people who would be breaking the law anyway, whether the officer was there or not; it is not to convince law-abiding citizens to commit a crime.
Many undercover officers use aggressive tactics to pressure “suspects” into an act of prostitution. If your case involved a sting, we may be able to get the entire charge thrown out.
What are the best defenses against a prostitution charge in Los Angeles?
The best defense depends on the facts of your situation. Most prostitution arrests start when you are either caught in the act (in a car, massage parlor, etc.) or by an undercover officer posing as a john. Both types of arrest have their weaknesses.
In general, these are the defenses we see work most often in prostitution cases:
Lack of trustworthy evidence. This is very effective in any case where there’s no record of the “agreement.” The prosecutor has to prove that you accepted goods, services or money for sex. If police did not witness this, or if an undercover officer failed to record it via a wire (which is common), the case against you is weak. We could get the case dismissed.
Insufficient evidence. This sounds similar, but is a different defense. In the example above, the key piece of evidence the prosecution needs is missing. In this case, “insufficient evidence,” they have evidence but it’s not strong evidence. For example, maybe they recorded the “agreement” but it’s vague, or any of a dozen other legal situations. If the evidence isn’t conclusive, we can fight your case for you.
Entrapment. As described above, if officers cross the line into entrapment, you could win your case outright.
Mistake. This is a powerful defense in many prostitution cases because of the hazy evidence against you. If you didn’t actually intend to trade sex or a “lewd act” for something… you aren’t a prostitute. This could be the case if you were responding to an online ad, if you went out with a wealthy man but did not expect to trade sex for money, or if an undercover officer made you an “offer” that was vague.
What are the penalties for prostitution in Los Angeles?
For a first-time offense, the penalties for prostitution include:
Up to 180 days in jail
Fines of up to $1,000
Government-required HIV/AIDS testing
The possibility of a mandatory AIDS education course
The possibility of losing your drivers license
Not all prostitution charges affect your drivers license. However, if the offense took place in your car and you were in a residential area (within 1,000 feet of a residence), the court may suspend your license for 30 days. If you need to drive for work, you could instead get a restricted license that allows you to do this but the duration goes up to 6 months. This arcane law unfairly can affect almost any prostitution case in a car, because nearly any location in the city is likely to be within 1,000 feet of some kind of residence.
Repeat offenders can face higher minimum sentences. Judges in a first-time case can be very lenient on jail time, but a second offense carries at least 45 days in jail. A third offense carries at least 90 days.
If you are not a citizen, a prostitution conviction can even affect your immigration status. If you are charged with soliciting a prostitute, it is well worth your time to fight it every step of the way—and to get a lawyer on your side who understands these cases.
How do I win my prostitution case?
No lawyer can promise you will win. However, prostitution cases often have large holes in them and a good lawyer can make a difference. The prosecutor expects you to roll over—they want you to accept whatever “deal” they offer you without talking to a lawyer. Don’t fall for it. With a good lawyer, many prostitution cases can be reduced to “disturbing the peace” or even a trespass charge. These charges are not officially related to any sex crime, and they let you walk away with far fewer consequences on your career, family and life. In some cases we can even win your case and you can walk away free of all charges.
Don’t face your case alone. Let the team at the Simmrin Law Group help you with a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your FREE consultation today.