Are Escorts Legal in Los Angeles?

by Ambrosio Rodriguez | Jun 12, 2018 | Criminal Defense

In today’s society, it seems like you can purchase just about any service you need or want. This is even true of human companionship. Escorts are individuals who are paid to simply spend time with you. Escorts can be hired to accompany you to a public outing or family event, or simply to sit and listen to you blow off steam.

However, sometimes the services offered by an escort can become blurred. While escorts are technically legal in the state of California, it is important to ensure that certain lines are not crossed. Specifically, don’t ever pay someone to engage in any behavior that may be classified as sex.

Escort Service or Prostitution?

In California, escorts are legal. However, the escort industry is highly regulated. Escorts must obtain a special permit that allows them to offer their companionship to the highest bidder. Engaging in sexual conduct in exchange for money is a serious violation of California law. Escorts who have sex with a client on the job will lose their permit and face criminal prostitution charges.

California Prostitution Laws

If you’ve paid your escort to have sex, you’ve violated California prostitution laws. In California, it’s a crime to not only have sex in exchange for money, but also to solicit paid sex.


Prostitution is defined in California Penal Code 647(b) PC to mean engaging in sexual conduct for money or other consideration. That’s right: money does not necessarily have to exchange hands for an act to be considered prostitution. Giving or accepting anything of value in exchange for sex can be enough to warrant criminal charges.


California law also prohibits the solicitation of sex for money. In other words, you can’t request, ask, induce, or encourage another person to engage in sexual activity with you in exchange for something of value. Under California law, solicitation is just as serious a criminal offense as prostitution itself.

Consequences of Prostitution and Solicitation in California

What will happen if, as an escort, you agree to have sex with a client? What are the consequences of soliciting your escort to engage in sexual activity in exchange for money or drugs? In California, most prostitution and solicitation offenses are classified as misdemeanors.

First Offense: First-time prostitution or solicitation offenses are punishable by:

  • A maximum of 6 months in a Los Angeles jail
  • Summary probation; and/or
  • $1,000 in criminal fines.

Subsequent Offenses: The penalties for additional prostitution and/or solicitation offenses become increasingly harsh. A second conviction carries a minimum sentence of 45 days in jail, while third and subsequent convictions will mandate at least 90 days behind bars. You may also face additional fines and additional terms of supervised release (probation).

In California, the penalty for prostitution and solicitation can be aggravated if the sexual act is committed in a motor vehicle. You may lose your driving privileges if you engage in prostitution or solicitation while in a car within 1,000 feet of a residence.

Defending Prostitution or Solicitation Charges in Los Angeles

Just because you’ve been accused of prostitution or solicitation does not mean that you’ll be formally charged with a crime or convicted of that offense. The state has the burden of proving that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. The best way to protect yourself is by asserting a strong and persuasive defense.

The best defense will (a) cast doubt on your guilt and (b) offer an explanation or justification for your alleged behavior. Defenses that may be helpful in battling criminal charges for solicitation or prostitution include:

  • Nothing of value was exchanged
  • No sexual activity or conduct occurred
  • You have been mistakenly identified as a defendant
  • You have been falsely accused
  • You have been the victim of entrapment, or
  • The state has gathered evidence against you in violation of your Constitutional rights.

If you have been arrested on suspicion of prostitution or solicitation, you need the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney. Call the Rodriguez Law Group to schedule a free case evaluation with our Los Angeles sex crimes attorneys. We will review your alleged crime, determine the best strategy for your defense, and fully explain your rights and legal options.

To learn more, call our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm at 213-995-6767 or visit our contact us page to send us an email.