Prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are strictly forbidden in California and both of these acts are considered sex crimes, a blemish on your criminal record which is more damning now than ever before. Penal Code 647 is the law which details everything about prostitution and solicitation in California.
So, that can you do if you have been accused of soliciting a prostitute in California? Well, the first thing you will need to do is lawyer up, find a respectable and experienced sex crime lawyer to help you get through the whole process as painlessly and easily as possible.
What Does Penal Code 647 Say?
Penal code 647(b) specifically deals with prostitution and it defines all the participants in the prostitution as well as other terminology. A prostitute is a person who either agrees to, or offers, a lewd act for a monetary compensation. A pimp is a person who mediates and facilitates prostitution and/or takes a percentage of the earned money. A person who has solicited the lewd act is called a John.
The law is also very strict in its definition of a lewd act. It is defined as an act of touching of private parts with the purpose of sexual arousal. Even though we typically imagine that solicitation is done by men and prostitution by women, the law recognizes both genders as either solicitors and prostitutes without discrimination.
What Constitutes Solicitation
Solicitation typically entails agreeing to or asking for a lewd act with a stranger in exchange for a payment. However, the payment doesn’t necessarily need to be monetary, i.e. cash; it can be anything with value.
If a person agrees to engage in this lewd act having previously agreed to a payment, it is considered that the crime of solicitation has been committed, even if the lewd act itself may not have happened.
Is Solicitation a Misdemeanor or a Felony?
In its basic forms, both solicitation and prostitution are considered misdemeanors, which means that the sentences tend to be a lot milder. The fine part of the sentence goes as high as $1000, whereas the jail time goes up to 6 months.
The judge may choose to impose one or both of these penalties at their discretion, depending on the specifics of your individual case. However, solicitation is a priorable offense, which means that the sentence will increase every time you repeat it.
Are There Aggravating Circumstances?
Just like with many other crimes, solicitation does come with its own set of aggravating circumstances which may increase the severity of the sentence if you are found guilty.
One of the most damning aggravating circumstances is soliciting a minor, even if you weren’t aware that the person you were soliciting was a minor. The nature of the crime changes in this case, and it becomes a felony, causing more severe sentences if you are found guilty.
Does Solicitation Mean I Need to Register as a Sex Offender?
If convicted of prostitution solicitation, you don’t automatically have to register as a sex offender. However, the judge still has the discretion to order you to register.
Typically, this doesn’t happen if this is your first transgression, but if the judge deems that you have committed these acts out of compulsion for sexual gratification, i.e. sex addiction, they might be more inclined to have you registered.
The practice has shown that a very small percentage of all cases of solicitation and prostitution end with registration into the sex offender registry.
The Prosecutor Needs to Prove Solicitation Happened
In order to prove that you have engaged in the act of solicitation, the prosecutor needs to prove that a certain chain of events occurred.
First of all, they need to be able to prove that you have asked a person to engage in prostitution. Apart from that, they also need to prove that you intended to engage in the lewd act (regardless of whether it ultimately happened or not). Finally, the other person needs to have understood and agreed to the request.
Fighting off charges of soliciting a prostitute is hard enough, but if you hire a good attorney, you can be sure that they will employ all the best strategies to have your case thrown out, so always be careful who you trust with your future.