Actual Case #1
In People v. Brandon R. - Case No. BA385663, my client was a music video producer who was not only alleged to have tried to solicit an undercover LAPD officer who was posing as a street walking prostitute to be his whore for the night but that he tried to make her his whore for life. What happened is the Los Angeles Police Department was utilizing scarce resources to not combat murderers, rapists, burglars, welfare cheats or child molesters BUT they were sending out 8-10 man teams on weekend nights in poor minority neighborhoods to catch unsuspecting "Johns" from soliciting street walking whores. My client approached the undercover female LAPD officer and solicited her for work as a model. He told her she could make money and travel with him across the State and Country. After the undercover whore had heard enough she signaled to other cops lying in wait and they arrested him for attempted pimping and pandering. The DA got their hooks in and never let go. They wanted my client to plead to a felony as a pimp. While it's generally understood that Pimpin' ain't easy my client and I decided to give the District Attorney's Office the finger. We set the case for trial and I brought in one witness on behalf of my client. She was an ex-stripper who was approached by my client years before at a strip club she was working at. He offered her the same things he offered the undercover whore LAPD cop. The witness testified how she subsequently shot many videos with other girls and that my client was always the gentleman and never tried to push up on her. I showed several videos produced by my client where he is not only seen rapping in the videos but dancing as well. Outcome: the jury returned a hung verdict of 9-3 for Not Guilty. The Judge dismissed the case preventing the DA from refiling. Now that's Pimp!
How Is Prostitution Legally Defined in California?
California defines prostitution as offering or agreeing to perform any form of sexual or lewd act for another person in order to obtain money, goods, or services. One of the most common forms of payment for prostitution, outside of actual cash, is illegal narcotics.
What Must the Prosecution Prove?
Under section 647(b) of the state penal code, the following three offenses are addressed:
- Engaging in acts of prostitution
- Agreeing to engage in such acts
- Soliciting another person to commit prostitution
The following elements must be proven to convict on a charge of engaging in prostitution:
- The defendant engaged in sexual intercourse, sexual touching, or some form of lewd conduct.
- The defendant did these sexual acts in exchange for money, goods, or services.
- The defendant willingly engaged in this selling of sexual gratification.
The following facts must be established to prove agreement to engage in prostitution:
- The defendant agreed to commit prostitution.
- The defendant actually intended to carry out what they said they had agreed to do.
- The defendant took some form of further action towards committing a prostitute act. This might have been the reception of payment, for example, or the arrival at the scene of the intended crime.
To prove a person guilty of soliciting prostitution, the following must be established:
- The defendant intended to engage in sexual acts with another person who would fill the role of a prostitute.
- The defendant made a request for prostitute services to that person.
- The other person received the request.
Defenses Against Prostitution-Related Allegations
A good defense attorney will know how to challenge the assertions of the prosecutor. A defense strategy might include denial of intent to actually carry out any of these crimes. It might deny that any sex acts took place, that any payment was made or planned, or that a prostitution request occurred. Unless evidence is plenteous and convincing, there may not be sufficient proof for at least one of the elements necessary to establish guilt. Another common defense is that of police entrapment. If law enforcement agents encouraged or coerced a person into committing prostitution, agreement to prostitution, or solicitation of prostitution, the defendant cannot be convicted. If the defendant showed hesitation at committing the crime, when the idea originated with the police, no prosecution is permissible.
All three charges dealt with in penal code section 647(b) are misdemeanors. The nature of the case and prior criminal record will affect the severity of the punishment. Some length of probation, 0 to 180 days held in custody, mandatory AIDS screening, mandatory AIDS education classes, and a fine of up to $1,000 are all among the possible sentence elements.
Under certain predefined circumstances, a prostitution crime can be automatically counted as an aggravated felony. In this case, legal immigrant residents will likely be deported for such crimes after a hearing before an immigration judge.
There are also specified circumstances under which a prostitution crime is counted as a "crime of moral turpitude," which are "morally inexcusable" acts that "shock the conscience" of the average upstanding citizen. These crimes can be prosecuted as misdemeanors or felonies, but in either case, deportation is likely for legal resident aliens.
Violations of PC section 647(b) are not eligible for deferred entry of judgment, which means that a light sentence with later dismissal of charges is not allowed. Neither do the lighter sentences provided for some crimes under California Proposition 36 apply.
However, this set of crimes do not require that the offender register as a sex offender, nor do they affect voting rights, firearm rights, or jury duty selection. Finally, these violations do not count as a "strike" on your record in regard to California's "Three Strikes" law.
Various portions of the California penal code address crimes that are often closely connected with violations of section 647(b). Five of the most common related offenses are:
- Lewd Conduct, which is handled under PC 647(a): This crime is a misdemeanor and a form of disorderly conduct. Soliciting, offering, or engaging in prostitution in a public place is a possible additional charge on top of violation of 647(b).
- Indecent Exposure (PC 314): Willfully exposing your private parts (genitals) in public view when persons are present who might be offended at such action is indecent exposure. Aiding, advising, encouraging, or soliciting others to commit lewd, public indecencies when others are present who might be offended or polluted by such actions is also public exposure. This crime is a misdemeanor but requires registration as a sex offender.
- Supervising or Assisting a Prostitute (PC 653.23): This offense consists of supervising, recruiting, assisting in crime, or collecting all or part of the payment for a prostitute.
- Loitering to Commit Prostitution (PC 653.22): It is against state law to loiter in public for the purpose of committing or soliciting prostitution. It is also illegal to loiter in order to encourage someone else to hire a prostitute. The evidence generally focuses on the manner in which a person acted in a specific time and place. This charge might sometimes be difficult to prove, but it is nonetheless a crime for which many are convicted.
- Human Trafficking (PC 236.1): Human trafficking is a special form of slavery. It consists in depriving another of his/her natural liberty in order to extract from him/her forced services, often of a sexual nature. Human trafficking is punishable by anywhere from 5 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Prostitution Crimes Defense Attorneys
We at the Law Offices of Jeff Voll have extensive experience in successfully handling allegations of prostitution and related offenses. We have often gained dismissals, brokered reductions to lesser charges, and negotiated away any requirement to be held in custody. We have the experience to gain the best possible outcome for your case. Do not hesitate to call us today at 323-467-6400 for free legal advice and quick attention to your situation.