California Penal Code 647(b) makes it a crime to engage in or solicit prostitution. If you pay another person or accept payment for sexual intercourse, you can be charged with and punished for this crime. California law is strict when prosecuting sex crimes. Therefore, a conviction under this statute will result in severe consequences.

After serving your jail time and paying the fines, the prostitution conviction will stick on your record and harm your personal and professional life. Therefore, fighting the charges is a priority. If you or your loved one faces criminal charges for prostitution, the stakes are high. Prostitution is a sex crime whose laws are complicated.

Therefore, choosing a legal representative can distinguish between imprisonment and having your case dismissed or being acquitted. We will help you protect your rights and build a strong defense to fight the prostitution charge at Chula Vista Criminal Attorney. If you face Penal Code 647(b) charges in Chula Vista, CA, you will need our legal expertise.

Understanding California Penal Code 647(b)

California law criminalizes engaging in, soliciting, or agreeing to prostitution. Prostitution is a serious crime charged under PC 647(b). Under this statute, prostitution means engaging in sexual intercourse or lewd conduct in exchange for money or other forms of compensation.

Lewd conduct could be touching, which results in sexual arousal or gratification. Therefore, evidence of sexual penetration is unnecessary to prove you engaged in prostitution. Several acts could attract criminal charges and a conviction under PC 647(b), including:

Engaging in Prostitution

You will be charged with engaging in prostitution if you:

  • Engage in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with another individual. A willful act means participating in sexual intercourse or lewd conduct without coercion, threats, or deceit. An intent to break the law is not necessary to establish this fact.
  • You engage in the act for compensation. Compensation can be done with money or another valuable item.

Solicitation of Prostitution

Another reason you could be found guilty under PC 647(b) is if you solicit a prostitution act. Solicitation of prostitution involves inducing or luring another individual to commit prostitution. You can only be found guilty under this statute if your intent to engage in prostitution is clear.

Solicitation could be done by a prostitute or a person who wishes to pay for sexual favors. The prosecution and law enforcement officers provide evidence of compensation to prove a specific intent for the crime. If there is evidence that you accepted or provided money or something valuable in exchange for sex or lewd conduct, you can be convicted of the offense.

You must understand that being present at a prostitution location or having a conversation with a known prostitute is not evidence enough to prove that you solicited prostitution. If your communication to solicit prostitution was not received or acted upon, you could be charged with a lesser crime of attempted solicitation of prostitution.

You Agreed to Engage in Prostitution

Under California Penal Code 647(b), the prosecution must prove the following factors to show that you agreed to engage in prostitution:

  • You agree to exchange sex for money or compensation with another person.
  • You acted with the intent to engage in prostitution. 
  • You made an effort to accomplish your intent. An effort or further act to engage in prostitution requires more evidence than a mere utterance of accepting to engage in the act. The prosecution can use acts like handing over money or going to the location where the action is expected to occur as evidence.

Penalties for Prostitution and Solicitation in California

If the prosecution presents enough evidence to support their prostitution charge, you will be found guilty and convicted under PC 647(b). Prostitution and solicitation are misdemeanors. A conviction for a first offense under this statute is punishable by

  • A jail sentence of up to six months.
  • Fines that do not exceed $1,000.

With the guidance of a skilled attorney, you can have your charge reduced to an attempt to solicit prostitution, which attracts a jail sentence of three months and fines of up to $500. If you are a repeat offender with a prostitution or related conviction on your record, the court may impose a mandatory minimum sentence.

In addition to incarceration and fines, a conviction for prostitution will taint your record. Every conviction in California is accessible to the public. Therefore, individuals who perform a background check on you will discover you have been convicted of prostitution. Most employers are reluctant to employ individuals with a criminal record.

Therefore, a prostitution conviction can affect your ability to obtain meaningful employment. Prostitution is a shameful crime. Therefore, you will suffer the social stigma associated with the crime. After serving your conviction, you may need to take other legal measures like expungement or sealing the record to avoid conviction disabilities.

Prostitution in a Vehicle

You will receive a harsher sentence under California Penal Code 647(b) if you engage in prostitution inside a vehicle. In addition to spending time in jail, you will have your driver's license suspended for thirty days. If you are allowed to obtain a restricted license, you will retain the license for six months.

A restricted license only allows you to drive to school, work, or other court-ordered programs. Under some circumstances, the state can seize your vehicle if you engage in prostitution while in it.

Sex Offender Registration

Unlike other sex offenses, there is no mandatory requirement to register as a sex offender after a restitution conviction. However, the judge presiding over your case could impose this requirement. Often, this will be the case if you have a prior conviction for other sex offenses.

Being in the sex offender registry can attract severe collateral consequences. Failure to register as mandated by the court could result in felony charges. If you face a prostitution charge, you will require expert legal guidance to help you avoid the consequences of a conviction.

Legal Defense Against Prostitution and Solicitation

The consequences of a prostitution and solicitation charge can seriously impact your life. Fortunately, an arrest does not always equal a conviction. With the guidance of an experienced sex crime defense lawyer, you can use the following arguments to build a defense against your charges:

Lack of Solicitation or Agreement

Agreeing to engage in or pay for a sexual act is one of the critical elements used to convict a defendant under California Penal Code 647(b). Sometimes, police officers set up sting operations and watch people having conversations on the streets. What law enforcement officers believe to be agreements to engage in prostitution are not always the case.

You can argue that you did not plan or agree to engage in prostitution, especially in cases where the officers did not hear your conversation. For example, if you are lost in the street, known for prostitution, your conversation when asking for directions may be viewed as an attempt to solicit prostitution. Your attorney can help challenge the beliefs of the police and help you avoid a conviction.

Lack of Intent

You will only be convicted of soliciting, engaging in, or agreeing to engage in prostitution if you intend to engage in a sexual act. Your intent as a customer is established as you present money or something valuable to exchange for a sexual favor. Officers may also use your conversation with an alleged prostitute to prove your criminal intent.

However, you must understand that the prosecution cannot use your hand gestures to show your intent to engage in prostitution. For example, waving or nodding at a woman standing on a street corner does not meet the definition of prostitution.

You Did not Exchange For Compensation

When you agree to engage in or solicit sexual intercourse with another person, your acts are considered prostitution when money or other compensation is exchanged between you. For your acts to constitute prostitution, compensation does not have to be money. Anything given to compensate for a sexual act is enough to charge and convict you under this statute.

If there is no evidence of money exchanged for compensation, your acts are just consensual sexual encounters between two people, which is not a violation of California Penal Code 647(b). However, if you engage in sexual acts in a public place, you could be charged with crimes like lewd conduct and indecent exposure.

Insufficient Evidence

The prosecutor must prove all the elements of prostitution before finding you guilty under California PC 647(b). Evidence in your prostitution case could be physical, circumstantial, or witness testimony. If the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to meet the burden of proof for the crime, you cannot be convicted under this statute.

There are several reasons why the prosecutor could lack enough evidence to prove that you engaged in, solicited, or agreed to engage in prostitution. Most cases of prostitution are based on evidence collected during sting operations. For this reason, the main evidence in your case will be the testimony of the police officers.

You will not be found guilty when there is no recording of your conversation with another person or a picture of you exchanging money. Another reason a prosecutor's evidence may need to be increased is the lack of furtherance of the act.

False Accusations

A prostitution charge or conviction brings severe and life-changing consequences. Unfortunately, no clear evidence can substantiate your actions and intentions. For this reason, it is easy to be the victim of false accusations. Several factors, including jealousy, anger, and revenge, can push someone to falsely accuse you of such a crime.

If you believe you are a victim of false accusations, your attorney will investigate the facts of the case to uncover the scheme.

Police Entrapment

In California, entrapment is a common defense in cases that arise from sting operations. Entrapment occurs when police officers use overbearing measures to coerce you into committing a crime that you would not commit without their insight. Law enforcement agencies use undercover officers to pose as customers who wish to engage in prostitution.

If the officer coerces you to accept payment for sexual acts, you can argue entrapment in your prostitution case. However, you must prove that the officer's conduct was overbearing. Additionally, you must show the court that you are a law-abiding citizen who would not have committed the crime under normal circumstances.

Before the court accepts your entrapment defense, the judge will consider if you were predisposed to engage in prostitution. If you have a criminal history of prostitution or related sex crimes, the court will not believe that the police coerced you into violating PC 647(b).

Expunging a Prostitution and Solicitation Conviction in California

The consequences of a prostitution and solicitation conviction follow you long after serving your jail sentence and paying your fines. The conviction can take a toll on your life, from missed job opportunities to difficulty finding a place to live to denial of a college application. Fortunately, there are several ways to avoid the disabilities of your conviction, including an expungement.

Under California Penal Code 1204.3, an expungement is a court proceeding where your guilty verdict is exchanged for a not guilty verdict. You can petition the court to expunge your PC 647(b) conviction if you meet this criterion:

  • You have completed your probation successfully. If the court sentenced you to probation instead of jail for prostitution and solicitation, you could apply for expungement after completing your probation. A probation sentence is complete when you have served and followed the court-imposed conditions.
  • You did not spend time in prison. Prostitution and solicitation is a misdemeanor that attracts a jail sentence. Even when it is attached to other sex crimes, you should not have spent time in state prison.
  • You are not serving a sentence for another offense. Committing another crime while on probation attracts serious legal consequences. Additionally, it is considered a violation of probation. If you serve a prison sentence for another crime, your petition to expunge your PC 647(b) will not be accepted.

If you meet the eligibility criteria for an expungement, you can gather the documents of your arrest and conviction to file a petition with the court. After filing your petition, the court will schedule an expungement hearing. Your case will be more complicated if the prosecution or district attorney does not support your motion.

After reviewing your petition, the court can accept or decline it. If the judge allows you to expunge your record, you will withdraw a guilty or no contest plea and replace it with not guilty.

Offenses Related to Prostitution and Solicitation

California Penal Code 647(b) is a serious sex offense. If you face arrest and charges under this statute, the prosecution can introduce the following related offenses in your case:


Under California Penal Code 266h, it is a crime to derive support from another person's work as a prostitute. Acts like managing a brothel or offering protection services to prostitutes for compensation will attract charges for pimping. Before the court finds you guilty of pimping, the prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  • You knew that someone was a prostitute. Under this statute, a prostitute is an individual who engages in sexual intercourse in exchange for compensation.
  • You received money earned through prostitution. Another element that the prosecution must prove is that the money earned through prostitution was used for your support.

Pimping is a felony punishable by a state prison sentence of up to six years. As an alternative to probation, the judge could send you on felony probation. Probation allows you to spend part of your sentence on community service. Your sentence will increase to eight years if you are convicted of pimping someone under eighteen. Additionally, the court will mandate that you register as a sex offender.


Influencing another person to become a prostitute or continue to engage in prostitution attracts an arrest and criminal charges for pandering under PC 266(i). Some of the acts that show your intent to influence another person into prostitution include:

  • You persuade someone to engage in sex or lewd conduct for money.
  • You arranged for another person to be a prostitute in a brothel.
  • You used violence, threats, and promises to encourage another person into prostitution.
  • You give or receive money for someone to be a prostitute.

You will be convicted of pandering even when your attempts to persuade or lure another person into prostitution do not succeed. A violation of CPC 266(i) is a felony punishable by a six-year prison sentence and fines not exceeding $10,000.

Assisting or supervising a prostitute

You will be arrested and prosecuted under POC 653.23 when you direct, aid, or recruit a prostitute. The elements of crime used to prove this offense include:

  • You directed or supervised a person in the commission of prostitution.
  • You collected or received proceeds earned from another person's prostitution acts.

Engaging in the following acts will be used as evidence of your guilt under this statute:

  • Repeated communications with a prostitute.
  • Having conversations with motorists and pedestrians in an attempt to solicit prostitution.
  • Monitoring prostitutes and their acts.
  • Receiving compensation for prostitution acts done by another person.

Aiding or supervising a prostitute is a misdemeanor. A conviction under Penal Code 653.23 is punishable by a jail sentence of up to six months and a $1,000 fine. Sometimes, you can avoid jail time for the crime by serving a one- to three-year probation sentence.

Lewd Conduct

If you touched your genitals in an attempt to solicit prostitution or as an act of prostitution, you could be charged with the crime of lewd conduct. You will be found guilty of lewd conduct in public if you touch another person's genitals or female breasts with the intent to gratify yourself sexually.

A conviction under PC 657(a) is obtained when the prosecution proves these elements:

  • You willfully touched another person's genitals, anus, or breasts.
  • You engaged in this activity in a public place.
  • You knew or should have known that another person was present in the area.
  • You acted with the intent to arouse or sexually gratify yourself.

Lewd conduct is charged as a misdemeanor and punished y:

  • A county jail sentence of up to six months.
  • A maximum fine of $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Human trafficking

You commit the crime of human trafficking when you deprive another person of their liberty, intending to violate pimping or pandering laws. If you take away a person's free will and convince them to engage in commercial sex work, you could be arrested and charged with human trafficking under PC 236.1.

Human trafficking for sexual exploitation through pimping or pandering is a felony that attracts the following penalties:

  • A prison sentence ranges from eight to twenty years. Trafficking a minor for sexual exploitation could cause you to spend the rest of your life behind bars.
  • Felony probation. The court offers an alternative probation sentence to first-time offenders or individuals with no serious convictions.
  • Fines of up to $500,000.

Additionally, the court can mandate that you register as a sex offender under OC 290. Sex offender registration in California causes serious societal stigma. Therefore, seeking legal guidance to help you fight the charge is critical.

Find a Competent Criminal Defense Lawyer Near Me

You could be arrested and charged with prostitution if you engage in, solicit, or agree to engage in prostitution. Under California Penal Code 647(b), prostitution involves engaging in sexual acts for compensation. California law prosecutes both the person who solicits and the one who receives payment for sexual favors.

The stakes are high for defendants facing charges of prostitution, from incarceration to fines and a criminal record that attracts severe collateral consequences. Sometimes, the court may mandate that you register as a sex offender. Fortunately, not all individuals charged with prostitution will face a conviction.

With the guidance of a skilled sex crime defense lawyer, you can fight your charges and avoid a conviction. At Chula Vista Criminal Attorney, we understand the devastation a prostitution charge can cause. We will offer expert guidance to battle your charges and secure a favorable outcome. We serve clients battling prostitution and related charges in Chula Vista, CA. Contact us today at 619-877-6894.