The crime of prostitution, across the nation, generally encompasses any act in which a person engages in some type of promiscuous sexual relations in return for financial compensation. In the state of California, under Penal Code Section 647(b), the following acts fall under the crime of prostitution:
- Any intentional or purposeful “lewd” act, committed with the intention of taking money or another form of compensation in return. In addition to actual sexual intercourse, any contact with an intimate part of the body with a goal or providing sexual gratification or arousal in exchange for money is considered prostitution.
- Persuading another person to take part in some type of prostitution can result in charges of prostitution. Whether you happen to the be person being persuaded, or the person doing the persuasion, you could also be convicted on the charge of solicitation, depending on whether you initiated the transaction, conversation or interaction.
- Taking part in any type of agreement to engage in an act of prostitution can result in being criminally charged with the crime of prostitution. It must be shown, however, that not only did you willingly enter into the agreement, you actually intended to commit the act.
In order to convict you of prostitution or solicitation, the state of California must sufficiently prove that a lewd act or sexual intercourse was exchanged for money or that you intended to engage in an act of prostitution with another person.
Penalties for a Prostitution Conviction
Obviously, there is some subjectivity regarding exactly what constitutes “promiscuous sexual relations.” Nonetheless, a first-time prostitution offense—charged as a misdemeanor—in San Diego can be punishable by as much as six months in jail and fines as high as $1,000. If you are convicted of a second prostitution offense, you will be required to serve a minimum of 45 days in a San Diego county jail, and up to six months. A third conviction for the crime of prostitution will result in a minimum jail sentence of 90 days, and a maximum jail sentence of up to six months. Further, in the state of California, you could be subject to the following penalties following a conviction for prostitution:
- Your vehicle may be seized and impounded by the government, if the vehicle was used in the commission of the crime of prostitution;
- Your vehicle may be labeled as a “public nuisance vehicle” if the vehicle was used in the commission of the crime of prostitution;
- You may be ordered to undergo mandatory AIDS testing and education;
- Your driver’s license may be suspended for up to 30 days, and
- Perhaps worst of all, at the judge’s discretion, you may be sentenced to mandatory lifetime sex offender registration, information which is made public via the Megan’s Law website.
Long-Term Consequences of a California Prostitution Conviction
Prostitution convictions remain a part of your criminal record, generally for life, and, even if you are not required to register as a sex offender, you will be required to explain your prostitution conviction when applying for employment or even renting an apartment. Those with convictions for prostitution may additionally be barred from any activities which involve children—coaching a youth baseball team or working with the youth in 4-H. Aside from the criminal penalties and the inability to gain employment and housing, obtain a government loan for college and obtain a professional license, there is the obvious social stigma attached to being convicted of prostitution.
Defenses to Your San Diego Charges of Prostitution
As you can see, charges of prostitution are very serious and can have far-reaching consequences. A highly qualified San Diego criminal defense attorney can help you through this difficult time, determining the very best defense for your particular circumstances. Your attorney may claim entrapment if a police officer enticed you into committing a crime you would not otherwise have committed.
Be aware, however, that despite movies and television shows to the contrary, proving entrapment can be very difficult. The due process defense may be employed by your attorney, meaning a public official such as a police officer displayed clearly outrageous conduct during the course of the “sting.” In other words, if the state’s conduct violated your due process rights, your San Diego criminal defense attorney may be able to use this to have the charges dismissed.
Finally, your attorney may claim a lack of probable cause, which generally means you were arrested prior to an actual agreement to engage in prostitution for financial compensation. An explicit offer to engage in some type of sexual conduct must have been reached—and documented—in order for the state to prove their case against you. Of course, the judge will be the final determinant as to whether the state had a reasonable belief, based on the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident, that you actually committed an act of prostitution.
Getting the Legal Help You Need Following Charges of Prostitution
If you have been arrested for a prostitution-related offense in San Diego, you are probably aware that the arrest alone can damage your job, your reputation, and your relationships. Your attorney will work hard to ensure the charges of prostitution do not derail the remainder of your life, therefore it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense attorney on board as soon as charges of prostitution have been made.
Don’t wait, hoping the charges will go away—call an attorney immediately and exercise your right to remain silent until you have had the opportunity to speak with your attorney and explore the options for your future.