What is Prostitution?

Prostitution is engaging in a sexual act in exchange for money or other goods or services. You are guilty of this crime under California law if you engage in prostitution or offer or agree to engage in the act.
Law enforcement can arrest the prostitute, the customer, and the middleman. The middleman can only be arrested if he or she arranges or participates in soliciting the agreement, receives all or part of the prostitute’s pay, or participates in procuring the prostitute. In order to be guilty of engaging in the act of prostitution, you have to have engaged in prostitution and done so willfully.

Penalties for Prostitution

Prostitution, solicitation, and agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution are all misdemeanor offenses. If you are convicted of any of these crimes the penalties could include:

  • Up to six months in a county jail, and/or
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.

This is an offense where the punishment increases with each following offense. When convicted of your second prostitution or solicitation offense then the judge will sentence a minimum of forty-five days in a county jail. If you are convicted of your third offense, then the judge must give a minimum of ninety days in a county jail.
If this crime is committed while using a car and within 1,000 feet of a residence, then the judge may:

  • Suspend your driving license for up to thirty days, or
  • Issue a restricted license for up to six months.

Committing this crime does not require automatic sex offender registration but the judge may make registering as a part of your sentence. Failure to register as a sex offender is a separate felony.

Legal Defenses for Prostitution

Having a prostitution conviction on your record can affect your career, reputation, and home life. It’s important to have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help avoid these consequences. Here are a few of the most common legal defenses for this crime.


Entrapment is when a police officer comes off as overbearing and the defendant engages in something that he or she wouldn’t normally do. The entrapment defense says that you are not guilty of the crime under these circumstances. This happens when the police have an undercover operation posing as prostitutes or customers and go after some they suspect. The problem is that sometimes the people they suspect are law abiding citizens and get lured into the offense by a police officer.

Lack of Evidence

In order to be convicted of the crime, there has to be reliable evidence. Without the evidence that shows beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in prostitution, you should not be guilty.

Insufficient Evidence

Insufficient evidence means that the evidence presented does not clearly prove that a crime was committed. It could be that there wasn’t a clear agreement to exchange sex for money, only a conversation.


If you did not intend to engage in a sex act, then you are not guilty of this crime. If you paid for a prostitute but only talked and did not engage in any sexual act then this could be a viable legal defense.

Hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help you fight these criminal charges.

Any questions? Contact us.

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