Prostitution is Rigorously Enforced and Prosecuted

Though prostitution is considered a victimless crime by many, it is still a violation of law that is rigorously enforced and prosecuted. In California, the legal definition of prostitution is offering or agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, which is the exchanging of a sexual act for money or other goods or services. According to law, California law enforcement officers have the right to arrest the prostitute, the customer, and the pimp or middleman. In many metropolitan areas, undercover stings are conducted by law enforcement to catch people in acts considered prostitution. Law enforcement aggressively seeks to make arrests in all forms of prostitution; online, street solicitation, and public venues such as hotels and bars.

Prostitution includes money exchanged for sexual intercourse and money exchanged for any lewd act between two people. A lewd act is generally the touching of the private parts of another person for the purpose of arousing or satisfying a sexual desire. Prostitution, soliciting sex for money, is a misdemeanor offense under California Penal Code § 647(b). Pandering, or acting as a pimp for prostitutes, is charged as a felony.

For a conviction under this statute, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) you either offered or accepted an offer to engage in an act of prostitution; (2) you had the specific intent to partake in that act of prostitution; and (3) you performed some action, beyond just agreeing, to further accomplish that act of prostitution. This applies both to the solicitor of prostitution services and the provider of prostitution services.

Registration as a Sex Offender

Although the law does not require convicted prostitutes to register as a sex offender, the Court can still order registration if it finds that the defendant committed the offense out of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification. Registered offenders will be required to follow all rules that legally apply, including penalties for failing to register. Because registration as a sex offender for a prostitution conviction is not automatic, the best defense will seek to establish the fact that defendant was not acting out of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification.

Arrest for prostitution can have serious implications and it is important to thoroughly understand what the law says about this crime and your rights.

Daniel R. Perlman
The Law Offices of Daniel R. Perlman