Prostitution is widely practiced—and it’s often hard to tell whether a person is a prostitute or not. Unfortunately, the men and women caught with prostituted are treated like villains, and “solicitation of a prostitute” is a criminal offense in Los Angeles. If you have been arrested for solicitation, you need to know that you face both legal repercussions and a risk to your reputation. You need to speak to a Los Angeles solicitation lawyer.
At the Simmrin law Group, we work to protect people in your situation. Our law firm was built on the idea of providing capable, results-driven defense for individuals accused of a crime. Our legal team understands how solicitation cases are handled and how they are won—and we have the track record to back it up. Let us sit down with you for free and show you how we can 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 soliciting a prostitute in Los Angeles?
According to California law, it is illegal to offer, take, or agree to a trade of goods or services (including money) for any sex act. That means that a single law applies to both prostitutes and the alleged clients of prostitutes. On this page we’re going to focus on the issues that the alleged client (sometimes called the “john”) has to face.
You could be charged with solicitation if you did any of the following:
Offered a person money for a sex act or for any intimate act such as touching their breast, watching them masturbate, etc.
Agreed to this kind of arrangement when it was offered to you, even if you did not seek it out.
Make the same kind of arrangement, but by offering other services or goods instead of money. Drugs, alcohol, jewelry, and rent or a “shopping trip” could all be construed as prostitution.
However, in order to convict you, the prosecutor has to prove that you intended to engage in the act of prostitution with the other person. In other words, if you did not realize that the other person was a prostitute, or wanted to only give a gift and not “trade” for sex, you cannot be convicted. In general, it can be very hard for the prosecution to prove a solicitation charge, and there are many ways to fight it.
What if I was caught in a sting? Is that legal?
It is legal, but stings run into legal gray areas and if you were caught in a sting you may have been “entrapped.” Entrapment is illegal, but it doesn’t work the way people often think it does.
Officers have many rights that they don’t have in movies. They can lie to you, they can tell you are not police officers even if you directly ask, and they can be the first ones to offer the prostitution arrangement. None of this invalidates the sting and none of it violates your rights as they are interpreted by the courts.
However, officers cross a line if they essentially manufacture a criminal situation to lure you into the crime. For example:
Imagine that you respond to a suggestive personals ad on Craigslist, supposedly posted by a woman looking to “have fun.” You don’t know it yet, but the woman is an undercover police officer.
The woman replies to your message with additional suggestive emails. When you send her a picture she compliments you and flatters you about how good looking you are. She suggests you meet up at a hotel restaurant.
You meet up with her. She’s very attractive and flatters you throughout the meal. Then she invites you up to her room. In her room, she says she will have sex with you for $500.
You wouldn’t normally hire a prostitute, but you feel awkward about backing out now that you’re hear. You give her the money, and then officers come in and arrest you.
This is a situation of entrapment, and the officers acted illegally. They took someone who was not looking to hire a prostitute, did not try to hire a prostitute, and felt uncomfortable hiring a prostitute—and set up a situation to make him hire a prostitute. That is not busting a criminal; it’s creating a crime that wouldn’t otherwise have happened.
Not all solicitation cases start with a sting, but when they do, entrapment can be a very powerful defense. There are many other defenses you can use as well.
What defenses can I use against a solicitation charge?
A good attorney will craft your defense based on your specific situation. Some of the defenses we see being most effective in solicitation cases include:
Entrapment in cases of a sting or setup,
Accident, in cases where you did not know the person was a prostitute,
Insufficient evidence, such as when the person you were with confesses to be a prostitute but there is no other evidence, or
Total lack of evidence, such as catching you in the car with an alleged prostitute, or spotting you talking out of a car window with a person you then have sex with.
What are the penalties for soliciting a prostitute?
The crime is a misdemeanor, but the penalties are surprisingly steep. They also get worse if you have previous, related charges. But the basic penalties for a first time solicitation charge 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
Needless to say, these penalties are not only excessive but also humiliating.
The greatest penalties, however, go beyond the official sentence. While any allegation of associating with a prostitute can be damning, a conviction places a permanent mark upon you that can affect your reputation, career, family life and more. It 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.
Talk to a Los Angeles Solicitation Attorney for Free
Your name and reputation are your most important assets. Don’t let them be ruined by an accident, a setup or a single mistake. The legal team at the Simmrin Law Group is here to help—and we will give you a FREE consultation to get you started. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.