Prostitution, and Penalties for Solicitation of Illegal Sexual Services
In California, engaging in sexual intercourse or other acts of prostitution is considered to be illegal. Under Penal Code 647b, there are three aspects that are illegal with regards to prostitution: giving or receiving money in exchange for sex work, soliciting sex work, and agreeing to sex work. It becomes evident that the law applies both to the person offering the acts of prostitution, but also to the individual who attempts to buy sexual services.
An instance of any of the three illegal acts mentioned above is not always easy to spot. Money does not have to be exchanged in order for it to be an act of prostitution, or the solicitation of it. In fact, if someone is using their position of authority or force, this can also be classified as soliciting. If an individual is caught with soliciting they can face various punishments based on their past number of offenses and the context of the crime. If the defendant has solicited an act of prostitution for the first time (under this specific penal code), they can face up to six months in a county jail, if found guilty. As the number of previous convictions, of having solicited sex acts, increases so do the penalties. Once the defendant reaches at least their third violation of this code, the minimum sentencing increases to at least ninety days.
Given that laws regarding sex work differs with jurisdictions, it is important to create a legal defence to a charge of solicitation that considers the specific laws in California. For example, Penal Code 647b does not necessarily result in the defendant (the prostitute or the customer) being registered as a sex offender. Such a registration is up to the judge of the case. If someone has been accused of soliciting prostitution, it is imperative that they consult an experienced criminal attorney, who will use defences like insufficient evidence or intent to disprove the prosecution’s case.