Prostitution is aggressively prosecuted and punished in Southern California. It occurs in a variety of ways, but it essentially means that somebody engages in a sex act in exchange for money or something else of value. If you are charged with prostitution, you should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney. Riverside and San Bernardino County prostitution defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings may be able to help. He also can assist people who have been charged with sexual assault or other sex offenses.Understanding a Prostitution Charge
Prostitution is prohibited in Southern California under Penal Code section 647(b). Acts of prostitution can include engaging in prostitution, as well as offering (soliciting) or agreeing to be involved in prostitution. You can be arrested as the person prostituting him or herself, as well as for being a customer of a prostitute. These are all misdemeanors. This code section does not apply to children under the age of 18 who are claimed to have engaged in actions to receive something of value that would be considered prostitution were the child an adult. Instead, the child is considered commercially exploited and can be adjudicated a dependent child of the court.
In order to establish that you engaged in prostitution, the prosecutor will need to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in an act of sexual intercourse or another lewd act with somebody else in exchange for value, and you did it willfully. Lewd acts can include any touching of the private parts of another person while specifically intending to arouse or gratify that person. Proving "willfulness" requires the prosecutor to prove that you acted deliberately, rather than that you intended to break the law. This can be tricky to prove, however, and a prostitution defense attorney can advise Riverside and San Bernardino County residents on whether they may have a strong defense.
You can also be charged with prostitution for agreeing to engage in prostitution. The prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you agreed to engage in an act of prostitution (a sex act in exchange for something of value), you had the specific intent to engage in prostitution, and you also performed an act to further prostitution. A step in furtherance of prostitution could be accepting $100 and a bag of cocaine while verbally agreeing to have sex with somebody. However, without that step, you cannot be charged with agreeing to prostitution.
A prostitute or customer who makes an offer to engage in prostitution can be charged with soliciting. In order to obtain a conviction for prostitution that involves soliciting, the prosecution needs to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the specific intent to engage in prostitution. Soliciting involves luring or trying to elicit somebody to commit prostitution. Prosecutors could show this form of prostitution by showing that you offered to pay money or something else of value in exchange for sex acts. Sometimes the offered payment for a sex act is in the form of illegal drugs. If there is no offer of payment, however, a solicitation charge will not hold up.
You should also consult a Riverside or San Bernardino County prostitution defense attorney if you have been arrested for pimping or pandering. Pimping is prohibited under Penal Code section 266h. It occurs if you receive compensation for soliciting a prostitute or knowingly receive financial support from someone engaged in prostitution. Pandering is prohibited under Penal Code section 266i. It occurs if you procure a prostitute for another person or persuade another person to become a prostitute, among other things.
The different forms of prostitution are misdemeanors. Your potential punishment increases each time that you are convicted. For example, if you are convicted of a third prostitution offense, you can be sentenced to at least 90 days in jail, as opposed to at most six months. When the offense involves a motor vehicle and happens within 1,000 feet of a residence, you can face the possibility of a suspended driver's license, just as you would with a DUI charge. This can be converted to a restricted license for up to six months so that you can drive to and from your job.
If you are charged with prostitution, an experienced attorney may be able to help you defend against the charges. In some cases, it may be appropriate to raise a reasonable doubt by showing insufficient evidence regarding one or more elements of the charge. In other cases, it may be possible to show entrapment by law enforcement, which means that you committed a crime that you would not have committed otherwise.Consult an Experienced Prostitution Defense Lawyer in San Bernardino or Riverside County
If you are charged with prostitution, you should contact the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings. Mr. Comings has more than a decade of experience representing people accused of sex crimes, such as prostitution or child pornography. He personally handles each client's case. You can call us at 951-686-3457 or use our online form to request a case evaluation. Mr. Comings can provide a Spanish translator when necessary.