For thousands of years, prostitution has long been a bona fide profession across the world. Not surprisingly, it still thrives in other countries around the world and can be found in many areas around the nation. California is no exception. Despite how common prostitution is and has always been, it is criminalized in 49 states with Nevada being the exception. Even in Nevada, there are many guidelines and regulations controlling the industry. In California, many find prostitution to be a major problem. As a "vice" crime, it is often talked about in the news and media. Political and social stigma aside, prostitution carries with it serious legal consequences and is harshly prosecuted in the courts. Because of this, there is very little leniency for those caught doing prostitution crimes. However, the prosecution must prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable belief and given the circumstances of most prostitution crimes, this can be difficult. Nevertheless, what actually constitutes a prostitution crime is somewhat vague in California state law. Prostitution is a complex charge and you may be best served having an experienced criminal defense attorney represent you in court. Even in absence of the actual act, you can land yourself into legal trouble if you are initiating, participating in, arranging or otherwise involved in the solicitation of a prostitute. Those simply seeking the services of a prostitute, if coupled with the intent to engage in an act of prostitution, can be charged with solicitation or soliciting a prostitute. Solicitation is usually charged as a misdemeanor and carries with it jail time, fines or a combination of both. You can be sentenced with up to six months in jail and up to $1000 in fines or both. Solicitation is charge that is made up of several components and so there are several factors the prosecution must prove to convict you. First, the legal definition of prostitution is fairly broad. Prostitution is characterized by someone engaging in sexual conduct in exchange for money or other compensation. This definition does not apply to performances or other forms of entertainment or instances of sexual conduct open to the public. However, prostitutes and others involved in the industry, like pimps and customers, also called Johns, do not have to be caught in the act to be criminally prosecuted. It is often the process of soliciting for prostitution that results in a conviction. For example, someone offering illicit services or negotiating payment with a prostitute can be charged with solicitation, even if money was never exchanged and no act of prostitution was actually completed. As with many areas of crime, criminal intent is considered strongly here. The prosecution must prove you had a criminal intent when you engaged in solicitation. For your intent to be criminal, you would have to have known the individual you solicited was a prostitute, or someone interested in your services. Since prostitutes generally want to avoid being caught by the law, it may not always be clear who they are and what they do. The prosecution also must prove you had the intent to exchange money or compensation for sexual acts, which is hard to demonstrate. If prostitutes purposely act discreetly to avoid getting caught, one could easily misinterpret the offer of services for genuine interest. The act or acts themselves do not need to be sexual intercourse. Prostitution, and thus solicitation, covers a range of sexual acts. Examples include oral sex, physical contact of a sexual nature and sexual intercourse. Loitering with intent to solicit or commit acts of prostitution is likewise a criminal act. Loitering can be determined based off of the surroundings and the legality of the individual being in those surroundings. For example, if a man parked his car in an alley well known for illicit activities and was seen talking with prostitutes, he may be found guilty of loitering with an intent to solicit. Since there is a lot of room for defensive strategies, consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney for help in fighting the charges is a good investment. In absence of hard evidence, the prosecution may have a weak case so always have a criminal defense attorney evaluate your case before you accept charges.
If you or a loved one has recently been arrested and are being charged with solicitation, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can listen to your story and help you prepare a strategic defense to ensure your dignity is retained while you fight your charges. Contact our offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.