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California Penal Code 647(B): Prostitution/Solicitation Defense Attorney

The city of San Luis Obispo is only 155 miles northwest of Los Angeles and offers lots of activities. From wine tasting to hillside hiking, you can have a full itinerary as you enjoy what the city has to offer. Aside from the surrounding activities, hotel prices are extremely affordable compared to it’s beach side sister cities. Between the booze, the remote location, and the affordability, San Luis Obispo is the perfect recipe for prostitution. 

If you have been arrested for “prostitution”, it does not mean that you are guilty. It’s important to vigorously fight a “prostitution” charge because a criminal conviction will stay on your record and can adversely affect job and educational opportunities down the road.

As a former Prosecutor for the District Attorney’s Offices in Santa Barbara and San Diego Counties, Sanford Horowitz and his legal team will offer you a free consultation, investigate the evidence against you, and recommend practical steps to achieve the best possible results in your case.

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Solicitation and prostitution are misdemeanors, not felonies. The exact punishment of a defendant depends on a few factors, such as where the violation occurred and whether this is the defendant’s first offense.

  • First offense is punishable with any combination of:
    • Maximum of six months in a county jail (not a state prison)
    • A maximum fine of $1,000
  • Second offense is punishable with:
    • A mandatory minimum of 45 days in a county jail (not a state prison)
  • Third and subsequent offenses are punishable with any combination of:
    • A mandatory minimum of 90 days in a county jail (not a state prison)

Importantly, these penalties can be increased in certain situations. For instance, if you are found guilty of either prostitution or solicitation and the event in question occurred both in a car and within a residential area (defined as within 1,000 feet of a person’s residence), then the court may issue additional penalties, such as suspending your driver’s license for up to 30 days or issuing a restricted license for up to six months. A restricted license means you are legally able to drive to necessary locations, such as work or school, but you are not allowed to drive otherwise.

Additional local governments, such as cities, counties, or towns, may impose additional penalties depending on your situation. For instance, the City of San Luis Obispo may seize your car if you are guilty of either crime while in the car.

The good news is that even if you are convicted of either prostitution or solicitation, you may not have to register as a sex offender in California. This is important because other types of sex crimes automatically trigger the sex offender registration, but neither prostitution nor solicitation do this. However, a court can order any convicted person to register if they deem it necessary, although this is a rare occurrence.

The law applies to both prostitutes and their clients. However, some prostitutes also have middlemen, known generally as “pimps.” A pimp is more likely to be arrested for these violations:

  • California’s “pimping and pandering” laws, Penal Code 266h and Penal Code 266i, or
  • “Supervising or aiding” a prostitute, Penal Code 653.23 PC6
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    There are defenses available in a prostitution case. Here are some of the more common defenses raised in prostitution cases:


    In some cases, there may not be sufficient evidence to support a prostitution charge.


    This happens when law enforcement convince a person to commit a crime that they would not have committed in the absence of inducement. You can raise the defense of entrapment in the context of police “stings” in which undercover officers pose as prostitutes or clients enticing others into soliciting or agreeing to engage in prostitution.


    If the police obtained the evidence against you through a search or seizure that violated your 4th Amendment rights, it can result in a judge declaring the evidence they gathered inadmissible in court. This can significantly weaken the prosecution’s case against you and even result in the prosecution dropping the charges entirely.

    Keep in mind that many prostitution cases are resolved through the plea bargain process. This involves the defendant pleading guilty in return for a more lenient sentence or reduced charges. Many of these charge reductions allow a defendant to plead guilty to an offense that doesn’t carry the sexual stigma associated with prostitution, helping them avoid the ongoing collateral consequences.

    Importantly, negotiating a plea bargain is a complicated legal process, so it is crucial for anyone considering one to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer to represent them immediately. Some of the charges to which a prostitution charge can be reduced to include the following:

    • California PC 415 – Disturbing the Peace
    • California PC 602 – Criminal Trespass
    • California PC 647(a) – Lewd Conduct in Public

    If you are facing a charge of prostitution, Santa Barbara County defense attorney Sanford Horowitz Criminal Defense knows the law and the best strategies for your defense. We have extensive experience representing clients throughout the Santa Barbara area and want to help you understand the charges you are facing as well as what your rights are under the law.  

    If you’d like to schedule a consultation about your case, call (805) 749-5670 or fill out this contact form.

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