California Penal Code 647(b) illegalizes prostitution in the state of California. As the PC defines, prostitution is the process of offering to have sexual relations or engage in licentious behavior with someone by offering money, drugs, and other goods as an exchange. If found guilty, both escorts and customers may face 6 months in jail and pay a fine of approximately $1,000.
There are two main takeaways in this PC. First, the solicitation of sexual intercourse must be directly and clearly established by at least one party. The invitation to participate in sexually unchaste activity and/or acceptance thereof should be deliberate. For example, a person who trades cash for performing lewd acts is considered punishable under this penal code. Likewise, an online interaction initiated specifically to discuss sex to get money is also covered in this law. They do not have to actually do the deed, but the agreement alone can be held against both parties. It is also worth noting that the agreement between both parties is not required. A woman may say no to a man's attempt to request oral sex, but that does not denote that the law is inapplicable to the man. Meanwhile, if a person behaves seductively but does not overtly solicit sex from another person, there is a good chance that there was no malicious intent behind the action. For instance, a man who smiled at a woman while being in a place that is infamous for harlotry may have just tried to be friendly. For as long as there is intent to engage in, solicit, or even agree to participate in prostitution, any individual will be punished under this law.
Second, any behavior that is directed to sexually please another individual is considered a lewd act. However, it is important to take note that lewdness does not always involve prostitution. If two individuals planned to have sex but did not barter any material for the sexual act, then that is not considered prostitution. Meanwhile, if a woman permits a man to touch her genitalia (even without penetration) for money, then that falls under the category of prostitution.
There are other penal codes that covers the legality of escorting in California, which are as follows:
- California Penal Code PC 266 (a): Abduction for Prostitution
- California Penal Code PC 266 (e): Acquiring Prostitute
- California Penal Code PC 266 (f): Selling Prostitute
Other similar penal codes such as California Penal Code 266 (h) and California Penal Code 266 (i) involve pimping and pandering. These penal codes are related to but not included under the PC 647b. The PC defines these terms as individuals who make profits off prostitution and supervises prostitution respectively.
Punishments for Escort or Prostitution in California
There are varying degrees of guilt in this penal code. Factors such as the frequency of the offense and the age of the suspected prostitute will affect the intensity of the punishment. The following are the possible punishments that both prostitutes and customers (colloquially referred to as “johns”) will face:
- First offenders will serve 6 months in jail at most and pay up to $1,000 in fines. This excludes other assessments and charges.
- Second time will impose a minimum sentence of 45 days in county jail.
- Third offense will serve at least 90 days in jail.
- Law enforcement may also confiscate the defendant's vehicle for special circumstances. Most common example of this is when the act happened inside the defendant's vehicle that was less than a thousand feet from a residence. Furthermore, the judge may also suspend one's driver's license for a maximum period of thirty days or restrict the license for half a year.
Breaking the California Penal Code 647 (b) is a misdemeanor offense. If one gets accused of violating such PC, then it may ultimately impact their quality of life.For instance, an allegation of prostitution may cause marriage complications, employment issues. Hence, it is of utmost importance to get a criminal defense attorney to help win this case in your favor. A competent California defense lawyer will mention these possible defenses:
- Use of “decoy” cops to lure innocent civilians into committing crimes they would not normally do;
- Lack of concrete evidence; and
- Mistake of fact
Each prostitution allegation has its own complexities. Thus, it is best to seek professional help from one of our many licensed and experienced criminal defense lawyers here in California.
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