Solicitation of prostitution is a complicated and often misunderstood charge. If you are facing solicitation charges in the San Diego area, contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer right away. An experienced legal representative like Peter Blair will listen to you, give you honest answers, and help develop a sound strategy for your defense. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact The Law Office of Peter Blair online to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.
California Penal Code 647 governs prostitution and solicitation in the state of California. This statute defines solicitation this way: “A person agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, he or she manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in prostitution.” Under this definition, one is guilty of solicitation if they offer any sort of goods or services in exchange for a sexual act.
While the statute requires “specific intent” to be found guilty of solicitation, different actions can constitute specific intent. Being present in a certain place or making a certain gesture can constitute solicitation of prostitution, California courts have found. So long as the specific intent to engage in prostitution is present, a number of different acts can give rise to solicitation charges.
It is also important to note that the sexual act does not have to actually take place to be found guilty of solicitation. Making some sort of act in furtherance of prostitution (with specific intent to do so) is enough for solicitation charges.
Essentially, three things must be proven in order for solicitation charges to stick:
- The suspect solicited another person to engage in prostitution
- The suspect had specific intent to engage in prostitution
- The other person involved received the message of solicitation (in whatever form it was given)
Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing
Solicitation of prostitution is a misdemeanor under California law. It is punishable by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
However, prior convictions on prostitution-related charges can increase these penalties. One prior conviction of solicitation will result in a minimum of 45 days in jail, and two prior convictions of solicitation will result in a minimum of 90 days in jail. Plus, if the solicitation was committed while in your car and within 1,000 feet of a residential home, the court could suspend your driver’s license for a month or issue a restricted license for up to six months.
Attempted solicitation of prostitution is punishable by up to three months in jail and a fine of $500.
Solicitation of prostitution is not a charge that requires automatic registration as a sex offender. However, the decision whether or not you must register is left to the judge. In certain circumstances, the judge may decide to impose sex offender registration, but it tends to be rare in prostitution cases.
If you are convicted of solicitation or another prostitution-related charge, you could qualify for a diversion program. A San Diego County diversion program for prostitution or solicitation typically involves paying a fee, attending a class, participating in HIV/AIDS counseling, and possibly other tests. Successful completion of a diversion program can get the case dismissed, reduced to a lesser charge, or reduced to a small-time infraction. Visit the San Diego City Attorney’s website for more information about the San Diego Prostitution Impact Panel.
There are a number of legal defenses available to those accused of solicitation. However, the best way to determine a defense in your particular case is to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer. A San Diego criminal defense attorney like Peter Blair will be able to discuss the specifics of your case and determine the best defense for you and your situation.
Legal defenses for solicitation charges include:
Police misconduct: Law enforcement officers have a duty to conduct investigations, interrogations, and other proceedings in accordance with the law. Police misconduct can include conducting an illegal search or seizure, coercing a suspect to confess, failing to read Miranda rights, or other unlawful activities.
Entrapment: Entrapment is another example of police misconduct, but it is particularly applicable for solicitation/prostitution charges. Many prostitution-related arrests come from undercover “sting” operations. During these operations, undercover officers can pose as prostitutes or “johns” to try and catch prostitution suspects in the act. But even while undercover, police officers cannot pressure, harass, threaten, or defraud a suspect in order to catch them in the act of prostitution or solicitation. Essentially, police officers are not allowed to use deceptive or threatening means to convince a suspect to do something he or she would not normally do.
Lack of sufficient evidence: In order to be found guilty of solicitation of prostitution, there must be evidence of the agreement to engage in prostitution. Without an audio recording of the conversation or a witness to the agreement, an experienced defense attorney can argue there is insufficient evidence to prove solicitation took place. In addition, there must have been some act in furtherance of the agreement to constitute solicitation. In other words, it is not enough to simply make the agreement; you must have walked off with the person, gotten into a car, exchanged money, or made some other act to further the agreement. Without an “act in furtherance,” you could argue that there was no specific intent to engage in prostitution.
Mistaken intentions: In order for solicitation to have taken place, you must have the specific intent to engage in a sex act for money or services. Standing at a particular street corner, entering a certain establishment, or calling a certain number (such as an escort service) is not enough to qualify as solicitation. If you were unaware of the nature of where you were or what you were doing (or if your actions were simply misinterpreted), you could avoid solicitation charges.
Contact a San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney
When facing serious criminal charges, the sooner you act, the better. Being proactive is your best chance of minimizing jail time or avoiding a conviction altogether. Criminal defense attorney Peter Blair can help develop a sound defense strategy that gives you the best chance at a favorable outcome. You are more than the charges facing you, and Mr. Blair will do everything in his power to fight for you and your freedom.
Don’t let these charges define you. If you are facing charges of prostitution solicitation, contact The Law Office of Peter Blair. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.