Posted on July 8, 2016

What is the Punishment for Prostitution? | California PC 647(b)

If you’ve been arrested or cited for prostitution under California Penal Code 647(b), then the punishment will vary depending on your prior criminal history.[1]  However, it’s never safe to assume that you’re guilty merely because you’ve been cited or arrested.  Instead, the facts of your individual case must be carefully explored for any viable defenses.  Moreover, prostitution can be a tricky area of the law often being quite burdensome for the prosecutor.

In the event someone is convicted of prostitution, it’s important to know that they receive a fair and/or advantageous outcome versus pleading to unreasonable terms.  In other words, it’s important that a defendant accept the fair terms of a plea rather than accepting penalties that are far greater than necessary.  Therefore, if you’ve been charged with prostitution, contact an experienced Prostitution Lawyer to handle your matter.

Preliminarily, there are three ways that someone can be convicted of PC 647(b).  Solicitation, agreeing to engage in the act, and actually engaging in the act of prostitution are the three theories the government may charge someone with.  Although proving a certain theory may be different, the punishment for prostitution remains the same.

Prostitution is a “priorable” offense.  This means that if someone is convicted of prostitution, and they suffer from a prior conviction, the prosecutor may allege their past history as a sentencing enhancement.  Consequently, the punishment becomes harsher depending on how many priors someone has.  However, a conviction for prostitution never carries sex offender registration.

Prostitution

FIRST-TIME OFFENDER

A first-time conviction for prostitution carries a maximum penalty of six months in the county jail and a fine up to $1,000.  Because a person has no prior criminal history, receiving a jail sentence for a first-time prostitution conviction is extremely rare.  Typically, the court will place a person on probation for a period of three years.  The court will impose prostitution counseling classes and order a defendant to submit an HIV test.

SECOND-TIME OFFENDER

A second-time conviction for prostitution requires a minimum jail sentence.  By statute, if a person has been convicted of prostitution for the second time, the court must impose a minimum jail sentence of 45 days.[2]  In addition, the court will place the defendant on probation and impose terms of probation similar to a first-time offender.  Moreover, the court will require prostitution deterrent counseling and order the defendant to submit an HIV test.

THIRD-TIME OFFENDER

A third-time conviction for prostitution carries a mandatory jail sentence of 90 days in the county jail.  Moreover, a judge must sentence a third time offender to a minimum of 90 days in custody.[3]  As noted above, typically the court will also place a defendant on probation and impose counseling classes and order an HIV test.

DRIVER’S LICENSE SUSPENSION

Prostitution Vehicle

In addition to the punishment proscribed above, someone can have their California driver’s license suspended for up to 30 days if the prostitution act was committed within 1,000 feet from a private residence and within the use of a vehicle.[4]  This section does not apply if there was no vehicle involved.

Because driving may be a critical aspect in someone’s life, such as driving long distances to school and work, the court may consider these necessities.  In that instance, the judge may restrict someone’s driving privileges for up to six months and limit the use of their driving privileges to school and/or work only.[5]

ALTERNATIVE ADJUDICATION – “DIVERSION”

In many cases, PC 647(b) offenders may find themselves eligible for alternative sentencing options – e.g., diversion.  Diversion occurs when someone enters a guilty or no-contest plea, but formal sentencing is continued for up to 18 months.  In the meantime, a defendant is required to complete certain obligations.  If the defendant completes their obligations then the court will withdraw it’s finding of guilt, and dismiss the case.  Obligations may include community service, prostitution counseling, and submitting an HIV test.  Diversion is typically an option for first-time offenders but a skilled attorney may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor for diversion even if someone has prior prostitution convictions.

CONTACT US FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

free prostitution consultation

By privately retaining an attorney to represent you, your presence in court is not necessary.  Often times those arrested for prostitution find it embarrassing to address the court in person.  When hiring our office, we will attend each court hearing without your presence.  In fact, we strive to ensure that you never have to appear in court unless it’s absolutely necessary.

To avoid the harsh penalties under PC 647(b) and a potential criminal record, it’s important that someone retain an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney who frequently handles prostitution cases.  Our office handles prostitution matters all throughout southern California including Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Riverside counties.  Contact the Law Offices of John D. Rogers for a free confidential consultation concerning your rights and defenses.

 

 

LEGAL FOOTNOTES:

[1] http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=639-653.2

[2] California Penal Code 647(k) – defined: (“In any accusatory pleading charging a violation of subdivision (b), if the defendant has been once previously convicted of a violation of that subdivision, the previous conviction shall be charged in the accusatory pleading. If the previous conviction is found to be true by the jury, upon a jury trial, or by the court, upon a court trial, or is admitted by the defendant, the defendant shall be imprisoned in a county jail for a period of not less than 45 days and shall not be eligible for release upon completion of sentence, on probation, on parole, on work furlough or work release, or on any other basis until he or she has served a period of not less than 45 days in a county jail. In all cases in which probation is granted, the court shall require as a condition thereof that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 45 days. In no event does the court have the power to absolve a person who violates this subdivision from the obligation of spending at least 45 days in confinement in a county jail.

In any accusatory pleading charging a violation of subdivision (b), if the defendant has been previously convicted two or more times of a violation of that subdivision, each of these previous convictions shall be charged in the accusatory pleading. If two or more of these previous convictions are found to be true by the jury, upon a jury trial, or by the court, upon a court trial, or are admitted by the defendant, the defendant shall be imprisoned in a county jail for a period of not less than 90 days and shall not be eligible for release upon completion of sentence, on probation, on parole, on work furlough or work release, or on any other basis until he or she has served a period of not less than 90 days in a county jail. In all cases in which probation is granted, the court shall require as a condition thereof that the person be confined in a county jail for at least 90 days. In no event does the court have the power to absolve a person who violates this subdivision from the obligation of spending at least 90 days in confinement in a county jail.

In addition to any punishment prescribed by this section, a court may suspend, for not more than 30 days, the privilege of the person to operate a motor vehicle pursuant to Section 13201.5 of the Vehicle Code for any violation of subdivision (b) that was committed within 1,000 feet of a private residence and with the use of a vehicle. In lieu of the suspension, the court may order a person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle restricted, for not more than six months, to necessary travel to and from the person’s place of employment or education. If driving a motor vehicle is necessary to perform the duties of the person’s employment, the court may also allow the person to drive in that person’s scope of employment.”)

[3] See same.

[4] California Vehicle Code 13201.5(a) – defined: “A court may suspend, for not more than 30 days, the privilege of any person to operate a motor vehicle upon conviction of subdivision (b) of Section 647 of the Penal Code where the violation was committed within 1,000 feet of a private residence and with the use of a vehicle.”

[5] California Vehicle Code 13201.5(c): “Instead of ordering the suspension under subdivision (a) or (b), a court may order a person’s privilege to operate a motor vehicle restricted for not more than six months to necessary travel to and from the person’s place of employment or education. If driving a motor vehicle is necessary to perform the duties of the person’s employment, the court may also allow the person to drive in that person’s scope of employment.”

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