In California, a prostitute doesn’t need to have actually participated in a sexual act for payment in order to be charged with a crime. In fact, if police believe you were loitering with the intent to offer your services as a prostitute, you can be arrested and even charged with a misdemeanor. Fortunately, this is a very difficult crime to prosecute, so a Vista criminal attorney can help you successfully fight the charges.
The problem with the loitering with intent to commit prostitution law is that it requires prosecutors to actually prove that you intended to sell sexual favors for cash or other forms of payment. Generally speaking, this means they won’t even attempt to press charges unless they have some evidence that you were attempting to solicit your services, for example, you were in an area known for prostitution while accompanied by someone who has been convicted of prostitution or you were seen approaching several cars and talking to the drivers for short periods of time. If prosecutors do file charges with minimal evidence of intent to commit prostitution, your Vista criminal lawyer may be able to have the charges dropped quickly with minimal hassle.
Even if there is enough evidence for the case to go forward, much of this circumstantial evidence can be fought with simple arguments. For example, if the police saw you in an area known for prostitution (like El Cajon Boulevard), dressed in skimpy clothing, stopping and talking to drivers or sitting on a bus bench and not boarding the bus when it arrives, this may be enough evidence for the prosecution to argue that you did intend to commit prostitution. However, a Vista criminal attorney could argue all of these factors were merely innocent circumstances. For example, you could have been attending a lingerie party or a club in that neighborhood, which would explain your attire and location. If you were seen stopping and talking to drivers of nearby cars, you could be saying hi to friends, offering directions, or even if someone approached you thinking you were a prostitute, you could be explaining that you are, in fact, not. Similarly, waiting at the bus stop and not boarding the bus could be explained by it not being the right bus, your waiting for a ride from someone you know or even the fact that something about that bus made you unsafe so you decided to wait for the next one.
The crime also includes those who are loitering for the purpose of finding a prostitute. The police may arrest you if they have reason to believe you are trying to pick up known prostitutes. Like those accused of loitering for the purpose of selling their bodies, there may be many innocent reasons for your behavior.
Of course, many defenses to this crime can be negated by what you say to the police when you are arrested, which is why you should always request to speak with a Vista criminal attorney as soon as you are arrested. In fact, if you outrightly say you are working as a prostitute, you will likely be charged with prostitution instead of, or along with, loitering with intent to commit prostitution, which will make your case that much more difficult to fight.
Whenever laws come down to someone’s intent, it is all too common for innocent people to be charged with these crimes. That’s why Vista criminal lawyers like Peter M. Liss are so important to protecting your rights. If you have been accused of loitering with intent to commit prostitution, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation.
Creative Commons Image by Kyller Costa Gorgonio