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Prostitution Laws and Prosecution in California – PC 647(b)

If you have been accused of violating prostitution laws under PC 647(b)1, you are being charged with a serious crime. The jail time and fines resulting from a prostitution conviction could be detrimental to your future. If you are facing these charges, it is imperative that you hire an attorney with experience in prostitution law. With over 30 years of experience successfully defending prostitution law cases, our attorneys at Wallin and Klarich in California will confidently defend you to ensure that you receive the best outcome possible.

Read on to learn more about prostitution laws and do not hesitate to call us today to ensure that you receive the proper legal representation.

Some people believe that prostitution should be legal because two adults are engaging in a mutual agreement that merely involves sexual conduct. However, California makes it illegal for individuals to engage in prostitution. The California legislature has created prostitution laws to avoid the negative consequences of prostitution within the community.

What is Prostitution?

A person violates prostitution laws if he or she has sexual intercourse or performs a lewd act with another person in exchange for compensation. Sexual intercourse involves penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or genitals by the penis.

A lewd act involves the willful touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast(s) of either the prostitute or the customer. Several examples of lewd acts include:

  • Oral copulation (oral sex) performed by either party upon the other;
  • Touching of the female prostitute’s breast(s); or
  • Grabbing the prostitute’s buttocks.

In addition to the willful touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast(s), the act must be done for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification. This means that touching that is not done for sexual arousal or gratification is not a lewd act.

Prostitution Laws under the California Penal Code

There are three different ways to commit a violation under California Penal Code section 647(b), California’s prostitution law.

  1. Engaging in an Act of Prostitution

California Penal Code section 647(b) makes it illegal for an individual to engage in an act of prostitution. In order to convict you of violating prostitution laws, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You engaged in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with another person;
  • You exchanged money or other compensation for the sexual intercourse or lewd act; AND
  • You engaged in the act of prostitution willfully.


  1. Soliciting Another for Prostitution

    prostitution laws and prosecution
    Prostitution laws in California are strict. If you are convicted of prostitution in California, you could be facing serious jail time.

You may be convicted under California Penal Code section 647(b) if you solicit another for prostitution. Soliciting means that you are requesting or trying to sell prostitution services. Common examples of solicitation include offering to have sexual intercourse with a person in exchange for money and exchanging emails with an individual with the intent of providing prostitution services to him or her.

You must have had the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person to be convicted of soliciting another for prostitution. If, for example, you prank called a prostitute asking for his or her services, but never intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the prostitute, then you cannot be convicted of soliciting another for prostitution.

In order for you to be convicted of soliciting another for prostitution, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You requested that another person engage in prostitution or tried to sell your prostitution services to another;
  • You intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person; AND
  • You communicated that request to the other person and that person received the communication.


  1. Agreeing to Engage in an Act of Prostitution

If you are arrested in California for agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution, but never actually had sexual intercourse or perform a lewd act with the other person, the prosecution may still try to convict you under California Penal Code section 647(b) for violating prostitution laws.

However, your agreement to engage in an act of prostitution alone is not enough to be a violation under California Penal Code section 647(b). You must have also done an act in furtherance of the act of prostitution. An act in furtherance of the act of prostitution can be giving the prostitute the agreed upon amount of money or driving to a motel where you planned to meet the prostitute.

In order for you to receive a prostitution prosecution, the prosecutor must prove that:

  • You agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with another person;
  • You intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person; AND
  • You did something in furtherance of the act of prostitution in addition to the agreement.

The prosecutor must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt, otherwise you have a strong defense to your case.

Common Types of Prostitution Arrests

Street Prostitution

Traditionally, when we think of prostitution, we think of prostitutes standing on street corners soliciting to customers. In many cities around the world, there are streets where such activity is a common place occurrence.

Brothels and Massage Parlors

Street arrest - prostitution laws and prosecution
Customer or “John” being arrested for prostitution outside of a massage parlor

Although it is illegal in California to operate a brothel or other establishment for the purpose of allowing prostitution, there are some businesses that continue to operate such establishments. Often times, these establishments advertise their businesses as massage parlors or spas, but are in fact illegal fronts for acts of prostitution.

In California, law enforcement officers have been targeting massage parlors for illegal prostitution. A large number of arrests have been made and many massage parlors have been shut down because they were operating underground prostitution rings.

Online Prostitution

With the increased use of the internet, many prostitutes and customers have been going online to engage in prostitution services. The internet allows prostitutes and customers to maintain their secrecy while still being able to meet each other and engage in prostitution.

Recently, law enforcement officers have caught on to this trend and have begun to pose as prostitutes or Johns online in hopes of arresting individuals who engage in prostitution online. Many websites that allow prostitutes and Johns to meet are now being targeted by law enforcement officials in hopes of stopping this illegal activity.

 Loitering to Commit Prostitution Offense

A similar offense to Penal Code section 647(b) is Penal Code section 653.222, loitering to commit prostitution. Under Penal Code section 653.22, if you loiter in a public place and have the intent to commit an act of prostitution, then you may be convicted of this offense. The circumstances that may be considered loitering to commit prostitution include:

  • Repeatedly stopping or engaging in conversations with passersby indicating solicitation for prostitution;
  • Repeatedly stopping cars and engaging in conversation, indicating an intent to solicit prostitution; OR
  • Circling an area in a car while attempting to contact or stop pedestrians in a manner that indicates solicitation of prostitution.


Unlike the offense of agreeing to engage in prostitution or solicitation of another for prostitution, the police officer does not need to see an agreement or request to engage in prostitution. If the officer sees that your behavior indicates that you have an intent to engage in prostitution or solicit prostitution, then you may be arrested for violating Penal Code section 653.22.

Wallin & Klarich Prostitution Defense Attorneys

partners 2015 - prostitution crimes attorneys
Contact the experienced prostitution defense attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today

If you have been charged with this crime, you are facing a serious punishment. The experienced team of Prostitution Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich can help you fight your prostitution charges. At Wallin & Klarich, we have been successfully defending clients accused of prostitution for over 30 years. We understand that you may have a lot of questions about your prostitution charge. That is why our attorneys are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

We have offices located in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina, Victorville, Torrance, and Sherman Oaks. Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245. We will get through this together.

1. Penal Code Section 647(b): http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/647.html
2. Penal Code Section 653.22: http://law.onecle.com/california/penal/653.22.html

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