Prostitution and solicitation of prostitution are two of the most common sex crimes in the world. The good news is that as long as these crimes involve two or more willing adults, they are actually two of the least serious sex crimes in California. That is why most of these charges do not result in mandatory sex offender registration. Even so, if you have been charged with either of these crimes, you should contact a San Diego prostitution attorney as soon as possible.
Prostitution and Solicitation Charges in San Diego
Prostitution and solicitation charges are becoming increasingly common as police forces around San Diego County have been actively joining together to put a stop to these crimes. These prostitution sting operations are now commonplace throughout the county to catch both those trying to solicit prostitution and those selling their bodies in the act. In some cases, these operations may involve misunderstandings or entrapment, which is why it is important to provide your lawyer with all the details of your arrest if you have been charged with with either of these criminal offenses.
One of the things that makes prostitution and solicitation charges so unique is that they often teeter between legal and criminal sex acts. For example, while prostitution is against the law, pornography and escort services are both legal and the line between these activities is often very thin. This is why it’s so important not to speak to the police without your San Diego prostitution lawyer present.
Penalties for Prostitution and Soliciting in California
The penalty for soliciting prostitution and the penalty for offering sexual services for money is the same in California. The good news is that both of these criminal acts are misdemeanors in most cases. Penalties for a first time offense is up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Those convicted for a second offense must serve a minimum of 45 days in jail and penalties for a third or subsequent offense involve a minimum 90 day jail sentence.
It is worth noting that minors acting as prostitutes will not be arrested or charged for the crime as they are considered victims. However anyone accused of pimping or pandering a minor can be charged with human trafficking, will be required to register as a sex offender and can face up to eight years in prison if the minor was under 16. Similarly, in California, the penalty for soliciting prostitution is drastically different if he or she was a minor under 18. In this case, you could also be charged with soliciting sex with a minor, which will also require registration as a sex offender under the famous Megan’s Law and even before that, this criminal act may leave you in prison for years.
How to Beat a Solicitation or Prostitution Charge in California
Fortunately, being charged with either of these crimes does not mean there is enough evidence to prove your guilt. In order to secure a conviction of solicitation or prostitution, the law states that the prosecution can prove the suspect 1) agreed to engage in sexual activity and 2) that there was some sort of act that moved towards the furtherance of such an agreement, such as the exchange of money. In other words, just negotiating the terms of a sexual encounter isn’t enough, one person must make an additional action towards paying or receiving money for a sexual activity.
Your criminal defense lawyer can help you fight the charges by coming up with the right defense for your specific case, whether it means showing there is a lack of evidence, arguing that you were wrongly identified as a past offender by police, that you were innocent, that the sting operation where you were arrested violated the law, or another defense. If you have been accused of any crime involving an underage prostitute, it is particularly important you do not speak with investigators without your attorney present as anything you say could hurt your defense later.
Similar Criminal Charges
Because it can be hard to prove these criminal charges, prosecutors often attempt to charge suspects with the similar crime of loitering with the intent to commit (or solicit) prostitution. Even then, this charge can easily be challenged if there is not sufficient evidence, however what you say to the police can be used as evidence and may destroy your case, which is why you should refuse to say anything until your attorney is present.
Additionally, those who engage in a sex act performed in a public place such as a park may also be arrested and charged with lewd conduct in public.
Prostitution Sting Operations
In San Diego County, the police departments often run prostitution sting operations. Typically these cases are proven by text messages and suspect interviews after arrest. It is important to see all the evidence in these cases because sometimes people try to back out of the offense which is the defense of abandonment. Unfortunately, the District Attorney currently has a zero tolerance policy regarding these offenses and no longer offers diversion.
If you have been arrested for solicitation or prostitution, remember that you have the right to remain silent and that anything you say can be used against you. As soon as you have been placed under arrest, immediately request to speak to your criminal defense attorney and refuse to answer any questions about the crime you have been charged with. Please contact Peter M. Liss at (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free consultation.
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