In Los Angeles, both men and women can get charged with prostitution under a wide variety of circumstances. If you got arrested for prostitution, you need good legal counsel. Even a first offense can carry up to six months in jail, and if you have prior charges, you could face much stiffer penalties.
At the Simmrin Law Group, our prostitution defense lawyers in Los Angeles 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.
What Counts as Prostitution in California?
California has a single law that criminalizes both the act of prostitution and the act of hiring or soliciting a prostitute, known as “solicitation.” California Penal Code (CPC) Section 647(b) also provides a broad definition of prostitution, designed to catch and convict as many people as possible.
This means that a surprising number of situations can be considered as “prostitution” even if you thought what you were doing was legal. You could get 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 face prostitution charges even if you were not “caught in the act.” Simply agreeing to the arrangement is grounds for arrest. In addition, pandering specifically for prostitution is also a criminal act under CPC § 266i.
For a free legal consultation with a Criminal Defense lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (310) 896-2723
Prostitution Related Offenses
There are other prostitution-related offenses you can get charged with as well. For example, indecent exposure is often a prostitution-related charge. If the police suspect that you partook in sexual conduct in public spaces, which includes sexually engaging with a prostitute, it’s possible you can get charged with indecent exposure.
On the other hand, receiving financial or other benefits from the earnings of a prostitute is known as pimping. Pimping is a serious charge and can result in years of prison time, a felony on your record, and thousands of dollars in fines. Getting convicted of these charges can negatively impact your life severely.
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Does Prostitution Only Involve Money?
Money isn’t the only kind of arrangement that counts as prostitution. You can be charged and convicted if you accepted gifts, drugs, rent, 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 your situation, you may also get charged with loitering with intent to commit prostitution or supervising or aiding a prostitute. However, just because you got arrested does not mean you will be convicted. There are many ways that a Los Angeles prostiution defense attorney can fight a prostitution charge.
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What if I Got Caught in a Sting By an 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 of prostitution. Although shady, none of this violates your legal rights.
However, police can cross a line known as “entrapment.” Entrapment means that the police manufacture or create an unfair situation when the person involved would not have otherwise broken the law.
In other words, if you would not typically 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.
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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 or by an undercover officer. Both types of arrests have their weaknesses. But, 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 the police didn’t witness this or an undercover officer failed to record it via a wire, the case against you is weak. Our prostitution defense lawyers in Los Angeles could get the case dismissed.
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” means they have proof, 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.
As described above, if officers cross the line into entrapment, you could win your case outright. This defense is very strong, and it can often result in all charges against you getting dropped.
This is a powerful defense in many prostitution cases because of the hazy evidence against you. If you didn’t intend to trade sex or a “lewd act” for something, you aren’t a prostitute or committing a prostitution-related offense.
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 in Los Angeles 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 driver’s license
Not all prostitution charges affect your driver’s license. However, if the offense occurred 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 six 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. As a result, repeat offenders can face higher minimum sentences. Judges in first-time cases can be 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. So, if you get charged with soliciting a prostitute, it is well worth your time to fight it every step of the way – and to get a prostitution defense lawyer in Los Angeles on your side who understands these cases.
How Can 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. Many prostitution cases can get reduced to “disturbing the peace” or even a trespass charge with a good L.A. prostitution defense lawyer.
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. We can even win your case in some cases, and you can walk away free of all charges.
Shouldn’t I Accept a Plea Bargain?
While a plea bargain may seem tempting, it shouldn’t be your first option. Don’t just blindly accept a plea bargain offered to you by the prosecution without first consulting with one of our attorneys.
Plea bargains can often be extremely unfair and result in the same penalties and punishments you would have faced during the trial. If you want to accept a plea bargain, ensure that it truly is fair and benefits you in the long run.
Do I Really Need a Prostitution Defense Lawyer to Help Me?
Everyone can defend themselves in court. While you don’t need a lawyer to prove your innocence, the truth is that trying to defend yourself without a lawyer can be a huge detriment. An experienced defense lawyer can help you in various ways, including:
- Gathering evidence that is crucial to your innocence
- Consulting with witnesses or experts in various fields to provide supporting testimony
- Using various legal tactics to defend you during the trial
- Handling all your external communications with other parties
- Reviewing all plea bargains to ensure that they are fair
- Providing answers to all your legal questions and sound legal advice regarding your case
Even though it’s your right to defend yourself without legal representation, you shouldn’t risk it, especially if you have no prior legal experience. The odds are already stacked against you. Not hiring a prostitution defense lawyer in Los Angeles can make it even harder to fight against your charges.
Contact Our Los Angeles Prostitution Defense Lawyers Today
Before you move forward with anything on your case, it’s best to get in touch with one of our Los Angeles prostitution defense lawyers as soon as possible. For years, Simmrin Law Group has helped hundreds of clients beat their charges. For a free consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact us online or over the phone any time of the week. We are available 24/7.