Prostitution

California Penal Code Section 647(b)

The Law

California Penal Code Section 647(b)

California Penal Code Section 647(b) makes it a crime to offer or agree to engage in a sex act for money. Both the person who solicits the act (the “john”) and the person who agrees to commit the act (the prostitute) are in violation of the law. This crime is a misdemeanor punishable by a sentence in the county jail.

What Does This Mean?

It is illegal for a person to offer to have sex with another for money and it is illegal for a person to accept the offer to have sex for money.

Undercover officers acting as either prostitutes or “johns” usually detect these types of crimes. There is a common myth that undercover officers who pose as prostitutes or “johns” must properly identify themselves when asked. In other words, many people think that if the undercover officer is asked, “Are you a cop?” he or she must answer “yes” or the case is dismissed. This is not true. It is not improper for the police to lie.

How To Defend Against these Charges

A common defense to prostitution is entrapment. While it is legal for the police to lie, they may not unreasonably pressure a suspect to commit the crime. The police cannot badger or harass a suspect in order to persuade him or her to violate the law. The police are aware of the defense of entrapment. Often they will attempt to protect themselves from charges of entrapment by recording all the dialogue leading up to the arrest.

This is why it is imperative to have an attorney who is knowledgeable in the law and experienced in the courtroom.

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