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California Penal Code 647(b)

August 19, 2016 California Penal Code

Prostitution has been around as long as there have been civilization, and while this act is referred to as the “oldest profession,” prosecutors aggressively target this as a criminal act. In the most basic sense, prostitution is defined as any engagement in which sexual favors are given in return for money or some other form of goods or services. For example, you perform sexual favors in return for a new car. Regardless of the scenarios, California Penal Code 647(b) clearly defines and outlines potential penalties and guidelines for convictions.

Elements of Penal Code 647(b)

Prostitution is categorized under California Penal Code 647(b); however, Penal Code 647 covers a variety of sexually based offenses. For example, PC 647(a) refers to any persons who are caught engaging in lewd behavior in a public place or engaging in sexual activities in a public venue; however, PC 647(b) strictly refers to engaging in prostitution activities. According to this law, the following activities are strictly prohibited:

  • Engaging in the act of purchasing sex or engaging in sexual activities for money.
  • Offering to engage in sexual activities in exchange for money. The term “solicitation” is often used to describe this action.

According to California law, police officers may arrest not only the prostitute, but also the customer as well as the middleman, or pimp. State law defines a “pimp” as any person who arranges meetings between the prostitute and the customer. For more information regarding the legal ramifications of “pimping,” refer to California Penal Code 266(h) and 266(I). Even if the “pimp” does not meet the aforementioned qualities, it’s possible to still be charged with a crime if they aid in or supervise the act of prostitution in any fashion, as outlined by California Penal Code 653.23.

Examples of Prostitution and Solicitation

To prevent confusion, the following examples are common when it comes to making arrests and charging individuals under Penal Code 647(b):

  • A man solicits a woman for sexual favors in exchange for drugs or money. Even though the woman is not a prostitute, if she agrees, she can be charged with prostitution. Even if she doesn’t agree, the man can be charged under the statutes set forth within this California Penal Code.
  • A woman allows another individual to touch her in a sexual manner in exchange for financial compensation. Even if sexual intercourse is not had, both parties may be charged.
  • A man is approached by a woman, who offers sexual favors in exchange for money or drugs. Regardless of the sexual act, both the man and woman may be charged under PC 647(b).

Defending a PC 647(b) Charge

While the specifics of your case may determine the route your legal defense team may take, it’s essential to fight this charge. Due to the subjective and sensitive nature of such a charge, a professional legal team is able to locate holes within the initial charge to either prevent a conviction or reduce conviction severity. Some of the legal defenses your lawyers may engage in include:

  • Entrapment – Defined by the U.S. Justice Department, entrapment is when a government agency originates a criminal design, influences the decision of a civilian to commit a crime and then allows a crime to happen in order to charge the person(s) with the crime. Since prostitution is a hot-topic among political and judicial circles, sting operations are common. A professional legal team is able to determine if the sting operation followed all state and federal laws.
  • Lack of Evidence – In many cases, prosecution lacks substantial evidence to prove beyond a doubt that the defendant committed a crime punishable by conviction.
  • Misunderstanding – While the defendant may have performed sexual activity, many times the prosecution makes a mistake when it comes to the actual crime. If both parties agreed to consensual sex, without financial reward, then it’s possible the charge is based on false information. Simply because you received a financial gift does not mean you engaged in prostitution.

Protecting your rights as an adult to engage in legal sexual activity is the primary goal for defense attorneys. If you’re facing a possible conviction under PC 647(b), hire an attorney with experience and knowledge to prevent jail time and other unsavory penalties.



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