Prostitution is the world’s oldest profession. However, prostitution only exists because there are individuals willing to solicit sex in exchange for money. Over the past year, Los Angeles has allocated countless resources to stopping prostitution. In 2018, the Los Angeles Police Department made more than 230 prostitution-related arrests.
The department’s efforts have extended into the new year. A recent prostitution sting resulted in the arrests of at least 15 men. According to reports, the men approached women on Sepulveda Boulevard, an area known for being a central hub of prostitution. The women were actually undercover police officers, posing as prostitutes. The men were arrested after actively soliciting sex from the officers.
California Prostitution Laws
Prostitution and solicitation are illegal in the state of California. Since it takes two people to commit these crimes, California’s prostitution law actually applies equally to prostitutes and customers. Penal Code Section 647(b)(1) PC applies to the act of prostitution, while Penal Code 647(b)(2) PC applies to the act of solicitation.
Under 647(b) PC, it is a crime to:
- Engage in, or
- Agree to engage in
an act of prostitution in exchange for compensation of any kind.
In other words, it’s a crime to have sex for money or to pay someone for sex. It’s also a crime to attempt to have sex or solicit sex in exchange for compensation.
Solicitation Is a Crime Even if There’s No Prostitute Involved
It’s a crime to solicit sex or sexual favors from another person in exchange for money or compensation of some kind. It doesn’t matter whether or not the person that is being asked to perform acts of prostitution is actually a prostitute. The person solicited for sex doesn’t even have to agree to the requests. The crime of solicitation can merely involve attempting to find someone who will engage in an act of prostitution for money.
Aren’t Sting Operations Entrapment?
Sting operations are responsible for a significant number of solicitation arrests every year. Many defendants caught up in sting operations cry foul and argue that they were victims of entrapment. In other words, they claim that they were tricked into committing a crime. However, when they are run properly, sting operations are entirely legal.
What is Entrapment?
Entrapment occurs when law enforcement induces a person into committing a crime that they wouldn’t have committed on their own. In other words, a police officer tricks, persuades, or defrauds a person into breaking the law. The primary question to ask when a defendant claims that they’ve been entrapped is whether or not they would have committed that crime if not for a law enforcement officer’s influence.
Sting Operations Aim to Catch Johns Who Intend to Solicit Sex
Entrapment doesn’t exist when police simply create a situation that makes a crime easily-accessible or attractive. Sting operations are entirely legal as long as police officers do not trick, force, or defraud a person into committing a crime.
Let’s take a look at the LAPD’s recent prostitution sting operations. Several female officers posed as prostitutes on a street that is well known for the exchange of sex for money. These officers lingered on corners and waited for customers – known as Johns – to approach them and ask for sex. Other than making the crime of solicitation more tempting and easier to commit, the police officers did not unduly influence the Johns.
The question here is: was it likely that these men would have committed the crime whether or not the undercover officers were there? If the answer is yes, then the police operation was legitimate.
Solicitation Is Typically a Misdemeanor in Los Angeles
Solicitation, as a first offense, is a misdemeanor in the state of California. Penalties for the crime can include 6 months in a Los Angeles County Jail, $1,000 in fines, and/or probation. While there is no mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender, a judge can still impose that as a penalty if they believe it is warranted.
If you are convicted of solicitation more than once, you will face mandatory time behind bars. You’ll be required to spend at least 45 days in jail for a second offense, and at least 90 days in jail for all subsequent convictions.
The penalties for solicitation can be aggravated if the crime was committed in a car near a residential area. If convicted, you can lose your driver’s license for between 30 days and 6 months. The state may even seize your car.
Always get the help of an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney if you have been arrested for a crime. Sex crimes, in particular, can have devastating consequences for you and your family. Call the Rodriguez Law Group today to find out how we can help you with your criminal case.