Prostitution & Solicitation

Prostitution and solicitation charges are complex as they could involve a variety of people, ranging from professional sex workers to unlucky individuals who are caught up in police stings to unwitting consumers. While these offenses are frequently referenced in the same phrase, they are not similar, since the individual "selling," as well as the one “buying,” can be arrested and prosecuted for prostitution and solicitation.

At Darwish Law, we focus on the criminal defense of many offenses including prostitution and solicitation. Our team of skilled attorneys serves clients in Santa Ana. We put a lot of effort into defending our clients, and you can count on us to handle your case professionally to get the best possible result for your situation.

Definition of Prostitution and Solicitation Under California Law


Under California law, prostitution is defined as the profession or practice of having sexual intercourse or other sexual acts with someone in exchange for cash or any other payment method. Prostitution is prosecuted as a misdemeanor offense in California, according to California PC 647(b), for anybody who is 18 years or older and is found to be guilty of one or all of the following circumstances:

  • Accepting or making payments (in the form of cash, consideration, or other commodities) in return for performing a sexual act. This is prostitution.
  • The practice of soliciting (offering or asking) a prostitute for an act.
  • Consenting or agreeing to participate in an act that would be considered prostitution. This applies even when you did not commit that act.

Prostitutes, as well as "clients," or those who pay for the sex, could be charged and convicted with prostitution depending on this definition. These clients are sometimes called "johns."

Recognizing what it means to take part in a sexual act is a crucial part of comprehending what prostitution is. California law defines such actions as intentionally participating in sexual relations or any lewd conduct with someone else. Any conduct in which an individual touches the rear end or genitals of someone, regardless of gender, or the breasts of a woman to stimulate or please oneself or another individual in a sexual way is considered a lewd act.


Solicitation, which is sometimes confused with prostitution, is a separate offense that can be employed in similar scenarios. Solicitation is known as the practice of soliciting or encouraging another individual to take part in prostitution to conduct the prostitution act. It indicates that, based on who initiated the conversation, both the client and the prostitute may be convicted of solicitation.

Additionally, in solicitation cases, a demonstration of intent is required for a guilty conviction. The promise of payment or other items or payment in form of drugs, favors, other offers, in return for sexual intercourse or acts is often used to prove intent. It is not necessary for the other person, whether the customer or the prostitute or the purchaser, to have intent.

If you gave payment in return for sexual relations with someone, even though that individual was not a prostitute, or was a prostitute but refused to participate in the act, or if it had been an undercover police officer posing as a sex worker, you might be prosecuted for solicitation.

When it comes to proving intent, many circumstances that could be interpreted as innocent are often insufficient. For example, you could have been in a well-known prostitution-prone street or neighborhood but you did not have the intent to participate in any acts of prostitution. Alternatively, you could have gestured or even stood at a corner of a street, however, these acts do not demonstrate your desire to sexually solicit.

What Does It Mean to Engage in an Act of Prostitution?

Someone is involved in an act of prostitution when he or she:

  • Willfully participates in sexual activity or any lewd acts with another person in return for payment or other considerations

In California, willfully implies that the defendant did the conduct voluntarily or deliberately. It is not necessary to have a particular intention to violate the law.

What Does It Mean to Solicit an Act of Prostitution?

An individual solicits prostitution as per California law if he or she: proposes that someone else engage in prostitution, additionally, he or she makes the proposal to engage in acts of prostitution with that person.

To be found guilty of the offense of solicitation, a person should have intended to participate in prostitution.

What Does It Mean to Agree to Engage in Prostitution?

The prosecutor must establish the following for you to be convicted with "agreeing" to participate in prostitution as per Penal Code 647 (b):

  • You agreed to participate in an act of prostitution with another person
  • You intended to participate in prostitution with that individual
  • You took an extra step to aid in the execution of prostitution

In terms of the third component, the extra "step" entails more than simply consenting to solicitation, for instance, directing a client that has consented to a location that will be used to engage in the act.

What the Prosecutor Needs to Prove to Convict You

The prosecution must establish the following to prosecute you of prostitution and solicitation in contravention of Penal Code 647(b):

  • You asked that someone perform an act that would be considered prostitution
  • You intended to take part in prostitution
  • The request to engage in prostitution was received by the other individual

It is worth noting there has to be some kind of indictable crime, like:

  • Discussions of payment in return for sexual acts
  • Making a cash withdrawal from an ATM

Common Defenses for Prostitution and Solicitation

If you have been accused of prostitution and solicitation in the State of California, you should seek the advice of an attorney who has handled similar cases.

For this case, a criminal defense lawyer who focuses on sex offenses might consider a variety of defense methods. The sections that follow detail common techniques for fighting a prostitution and solicitation charge.


This is a popular defense for solicitation or prostitution since police departments will sometimes actively pursue prostitutes to try and make arrests. It is the technical word for when a law enforcement officer behaves in such a way that leads a normally law-abiding person to break the law.

A law enforcement officer, for example, may masquerade as a "client" seeking sexual interaction in return for a payment to lure or entrap a person charged with prostitution and solicitation.

The law enforcement officer may approach an individual who was not offering prostitution and ask, entice, flatter, or somehow persuade them in a way that will convince them to engage in prostitution. The person may be arrested at this point, leading to legal charges of solicitation or prostitution. Entrapment such as this is against the law.

Significantly, in California, entrapment is considered an affirmative defense. When an accused employs an affirmative defense approach, the defendant, as well as his or her attorney, now bear the burden of proof. The prosecution usually bears the burden of proof, which suggests it is his or her job to demonstrate that the defendant is guilty.

For affirmative defenses such as entrapment, however, your defense attorney bears the burden of proof. He or she must show that you are not guilty by establishing that entrapment occurred. Surprisingly, this does not have to be demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt; rather, the defense must establish that the law enforcement officials participated in entrapment.

Lack of Intent

To convict someone of solicitation, the prosecution team must show that the defendant intended to participate in solicitation or prostitution. This indicates that whether a person traded an item for sexual activities unintentionally or knowingly, their motive cannot be demonstrated.

For example, someone may walk into a massage shop hoping to spend money for a full body massage, not realizing that the phrase and payment were a lingo for sexual involvement with their masseuse.

This scenario, which is also referred to as lack of intent or factual error, means you are innocent of the offenses in question.

Insufficient or Questionable Evidence

Evidence is crucial in determining guilt, and the prosecution team has the burden of proof. However, the questionable proof is not similar to insufficient evidence:

Any proof that the judge or jurors are not convinced as reliable is considered questionable proof. This could be in the form of official proof against the prostitute or the solicitation offender. The jurors may not be capable of finding you guilty of any crime if the criminal defense lawyer can raise doubt on the proof.

Insufficient evidence may appear credible or reasonable to the jury, yet it might not be adequate to support the prosecutor's argument. For example, the prosecution team could be unable to establish intent.


Your defense counsel could be capable of showing that you are not the individual who should have been accused of the crime. It could be a case of the wrong individual, the wrong location, or even the wrong time. Based on the stage of the case, this may be used in conjunction with a lack of intent argument and also as a stand-alone defense.

Penalties for Prostitution and Solicitation

In California, solicitation and prostitution are both prosecuted as misdemeanor offenses. A misdemeanor is a type of offense that is less serious when compared to a felony. If you're convicted of either of these offenses, you will most likely face punishment depending on whether it is your first or second offense. Both offenses are considered "priorable" offenses, this indicates that if you are convicted of one offense, your punishment will be increased if you are convicted of the other.

In California, the following are some of the most common punishments for prostitution and solicitation charges:

A first infraction can result in any of the following penalties:

  • 6 months in county jail
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000

A second infraction carries the following penalties:

  • A county jail term of 45 days

A third and further infraction can result in a combination of the following penalties:

  • A county jail term of 90 days

Additionally, there are various types of regulations governing various scenarios involving prostitution in California. Prostitutes, customers, pimps, as well as brothel proprietors are all subject to the laws.

  • A prostitute accused of a 1st misdemeanor crime in California faces up to a year in prison and fines of $1,000, or both. Prostitution that happens within reasonable proximity of any government location, such as military barracks or training facilities, is punishable by up to 1 year in jail under federal laws
  • In California, a client will suffer the same penalties as a prostitute. The client might be fined $1,000 or sentenced to a jail term of 1 year. For acts of prostitution with someone above 18 years, the client will be prosecuted with a misdemeanor
  • Pimps convicted of prostitution in California face a prison sentence of 3 to 6 years. The pimp's scenario will be heavily influenced by the number of women he has as prostitutes, the length of time he has been in business, as well as other considerations. A pimp is convicted of a felony
  • In California, brothel proprietors are subject to many similar penalties like pimps. Brothel proprietors will face felony charges and might face a sentence of 3 to 6 years in a California state prison

The above-mentioned sanctions apply to the solicitation or prostitution charges of a person above eighteen years. If you are found soliciting a child for sexual indulgences, the sanctions (fines as well as jail terms) will be significantly increased.

Furthermore, in some circumstances, these sanctions can be enhanced. If you are convicted of prostitution and solicitation inside a vehicle and in no more than 1,000 feet of someone's home, the judge could impose extra punishments, like suspending your driver’s license for a maximum of 30 days or granting a restricted license for a maximum of 6 months. If your license has been restricted, you can lawfully drive to important areas such as to your place of employment or school, however, you cannot drive anywhere else.

Normally, sexual offenders are obliged to submit their details with federal and state registries, based on the conditions. Persons who perpetrate offenses that contravene state and federal laws may be forced to reveal their details to the public. Sexual offenders are also sometimes obliged to keep a registry that tracks and monitors their activities.

However, the best part is that offenders do not have to list as sex offenders in California when they have been found guilty of prostitution or solicitation. It's essential because, unlike other forms of sexual offenses, prostitution and solicitation do not automatically result in sexual offender registration. A judge can, however, require any guilty person to list when they believe it is essential, although that is rare.

Related Offenses

There are 5 offenses related to solicitation and prostitution. They are:

  • Human trafficking as per Penal Code 236.1
  • Pimping under Penal Code 266 (h)
  • Pandering under Penal Code 266 (i)
  • Lingering to commit prostitution under Penal Code 653.22
  • Managing or assisting a prostitute as per Penal Code 653.23

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking, according to PC 236.1, is an offense in which people rob somebody of their freedom in order to obtain forced serves from that individual. 

A breach of this statute, unlike a breach of Penal Code 647 (b), is often charged as a felony. The crime may be punishable by a life term in a California state prison, based on the specifics of the crime.


Pimping, according to PC 266 (h), is an offense in which someone receives all or a portion of the profits from someone else's services as a prostitute. Suspected pimps can use an entrapment argument to fight accusations under this legislation, just like they can with prostitution or solicitation offenses.


Pandering is defined as attempting to persuade somebody to prostitute or continue to prostitute under PC 266 (i).

It is a more severe offense in California when compared to solicitation or prostitution. Pandering is prosecuted as a felony that can land you in state prison for 2 to 6 years.

Lingering with the Intent to Commit Prostitution

Lingering to commit prostitution is defined as lingering publicly to engage in acts of prostitution, according to PC 653.22. The consequences for this infraction are similar to those for a breach of Penal Code 647 (b).

Managing or Helping a Prostitute

Managing or helping a prostitute is an offense as per PC 653.23 that occurs when someone directs, supervises, recruits, or assists another person in perpetrating:

  • Prostitution
  • Solicitation
  • Wandering to engage in prostitution

The words solicitation and prostitution have the same meanings in this law as they do in Penal Code 647 (b).

Find a Santa Ana Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Near Me

If you want to fight the criminal charges against you, you should choose the best criminal defense attorney since your future depends on it. Darwish Law focuses on defending clients accused of offenses such as solicitation and prostitution. We work with clients all around Santa Ana, California. Get in touch with us today at 714-887-4810, and we'll listen to you, and vigorously defend you.