Selling sex is illegal in California, and doing so can result in criminal charges for both the buyer and seller. You may be surprised to learn you can be arrested even if the exchange didn’t take place.
Regardless of what led to you being charged, you should seek the help of a Folsom prostitution lawyer. The Walsh Law team will investigate what happened, explain how the law applies to your case, and fight to protect your rights.
California Penal Code § 647(b) covers the state’s prostitution laws. Soliciting, agreeing to engage in, or engaging in an act of prostitution are all prohibited under the statute. Both sex workers and “johns” can be charged with solicitation even if the sex act never happened or if one party refused.
The prosecution must prove that the defendant meets the following elements of the offense:
While you may think of prostitution as only involving the exchange of money for sex, the legal definition is wider. Under state law, even offering such an exchange is prohibited — even if sex doesn’t take place.
Similarly, the exchange doesn’t necessarily need to involve cash. It is a violation of the law to promise to engage in sex for any valuable property or service.
Finally, the action does not need to suggest sexual intercourse. Any act that occurs for the purpose of sexual gratification can violate the law if it’s in exchange for payment. A prostitution attorney in Folsom can further explain which activities may lead to an arrest under the law.
California law also defines several offenses which may be charged alongside prostitution, such as:
Prostitution and solicitation are generally charged as misdemeanors, but even a low-level charge can carry substantial penalties. A first-time offender can face:
Penalties become steeper if the defendant has a prior conviction for prostitution. Second-time offenders face a mandatory 45-day jail sentence, and subsequent offenses carry 90 days in jail. If the case involved a person under 18, you could face a lengthy prison sentence and be ordered to pay a fine of up to $25,000 for enticing a minor to commit prostitution.
Being convicted of prostitution on its own wouldn’t require you to register as a sex offender, but being found guilty of enticing a minor would. This could jeopardize future employment opportunities, housing options, child custody, and more.
Prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to convict you of prostitution. This means showing that an agreement was made to exchange payment for a sex act. A prostitution lawyer in Folsom can investigate the allegations to come up with the best defense to dispute the charge.
For example, one potential defense option is to argue that the sexual encounter did not involve the exchange of compensation. Your attorney could use text messages or other evidence to help prove a consensual sexual encounter free from expectations.
Prostitution charges also frequently stem from sting operations conducted by police. If officers violated the law by coercing you into committing an act you wouldn’t have otherwise, you may be able to use entrapment as a defense to help you get the charges dropped or reduced.
Finally, people facing prostitution charges may be able to defend themselves by showing they were forced into the situation by someone else. Your attorney will evaluate the defense strategies to maximize your chances of avoiding conviction.
Being accused of prostitution or solicitation can carry a strong stigma and significant criminal penalties. A conviction on your record can haunt you for years, maybe even for life if you’re required to register as a sex offender.
Although many prostitution and solicitation charges are misdemeanors, you shouldn’t take a plea deal without a fight. As a former prosecutor, attorney Chris Walsh of Walsh Law knows how to fiercely fight the charges you face. We’ll explain what you’re up against and find the best path forward to clearing your name and avoiding conviction.