Escort Services and the Law

PC 647(b): Prostitution and Solicitation of Prostitution

The oldest profession in the books: prostitution.  While this practice is still engaged the world over, it is still illegal in the United States (except certain low populated enclaves in Nevada).  Therefore, if you are arrested for solicitation, you will be charged with a crime under the Penal Code.  While the act of solicitation: exchanging sex for money, is still the same, the method has changed. The method for solicitation currently is the internet.  Individuals browse ads on the internet, and then make appointments to meet via phone or text.  Law enforcement is aware of this, and it is common for them to arrange sting operations to arrest unsuspecting “johns” and “escorts.”  In order to understand what prostitution and solicitation of prostitution is, one must first understand the law.

PC 647(b): The Law

California prostitution law under Penal Code 647(b) PC prohibits:

  • engaging in the act of prostitution, and
  • offering (this is also known as “solicitation”) or agreeing to engage in the act of prostitution.

California’s prostitution statute allows law enforcement officers to arrest the prostitute, and the customer, also known as a “john.”

–What the Prosecution Must Prove

How can the prosecution prove their case?

In order for a defendant to be prosecuted of engaging in an act of prostitution, the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:

  • The defendant did in fact engage in sexual intercourse or sexual services in the exchange of money. Engaging in prostitution can either mean the act of sexual intercourse or lewd acts; lewd acts include anything that is intended to deliberately arouse another.

In order to be convicted of solicitation of prostitution, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you solicited sexual acts in exchange for money.

In order to be convicted of agreeing to engage in prostitution, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you agreed to engage in an act of prostitution for the exchange of money and that you performed an act of furtherance. Furtherance means that you performed an action, or made a request that confirmed the act of prostitution will take place (i.e. Going to an ATM to withdraw money).


Penalties for a conviction of PC 647(b) can include:

  • Up to six months in a county jail,
  • Up to $1,000 in fines,
  • Suspended driver’s license for up to 30 days (if incident occurred in vehicle or within 1,000 feet of a residence)
  • Restricted driver’s license for up to 6 months (if incident occurred in vehicle or within 1,000 feet of a residence)
  • Forced to register as a sex offender (extreme circumstances only)

Penal Code 647(b) is a priorable offense, meaning that with each subsequent offense the charges must become more harsh.

  • 2nd Offense: A mandatory 45-day jail sentence in a county jail
  • 3rd A mandatory 90-day jail sentence in a county jail

Each conviction the fines are likely to increase.


Lack of Evidence: If the defense can show that the prosecution did not have enough evidence to convict the defendant under PC 647(b), then the case can be dismissed.  This can be achieved by utilizing mitigating evidence or by proofing that not all elements of the crime were met by showing that evidence submitted is either insufficient or insubstantial.

Immigration Consequences

If you are not a citizen, a conviction of PC 647(b) MAY be considered a crime of moral turpitude, and thus subject the individual to deportation.  Note, however, that it is a DEPORTABLE offense, and not a MANDATORY DEPORTATION situation.  It is advised that you hire an immigration attorney as well as a criminal defense attorney in these situations.

Current Climate of Prostitution and Solicitation of Prostitution Arrests

In this day and age, it is uncommon for a genuine escort and genuine john to be arrested making an exchange for sex, unless they are caught in public engaging in such behavior.  It is more common these days with the advent of the internet, for individuals to solicit and plan exchanges on the internet over the computer in the privacy of their own residence.  This has led to the prevalence of sting operations.  Law enforcement targets either the “escort” or the “john.” It is not beyond law enforcement to post fake ads to make arrests.

–Sting Operations

The most common situation where “johns” and “escorts” get arrested is during what is called “a sting operation.”  Sting operations are when undercover police officers act as escorts or johns, and try to solicit sex for money from an unsuspecting individual.  Once law enforcement is successful in making an agreement to exchange money for sex, an arrest is made.  Note that money does not have to change hands.  An agreement is enough to make an arrest.


Entrapment: The act of law enforcement officers or government agents inducing or encouraging a person to commit a crime when the potential criminal expresses a desire not to go ahead.  Entrapment is an effective legal defense if the commission or encouragement of the criminal act originated with the police or government agents, instead of with the “criminal.”

–Massage Parlors, Escort Services and Brothels

Be advised that massage parlors, escort services, and brothels are also subject to the same rules, and that engagement with these services constitutes solicitation for prostitution, as quiet often, these establishments exchange sex for money.  These locations are also subject to raids by law enforcement, as well as ICE, as most often the women who are employed in such establishments are most often in the United States illegally.  Also of note is that it is common for law enforcement to take over massage parlors, escort services, and brothels, and set up sting operations to arrest unsuspecting “johns.”

–How to Avoid Being Arrested for Prostitution or Solicitation of Prostitution

Many individuals have asked me in my career if there is a foolproof method of avoiding being arrested for engaging in prostitution or solicitation of prostitution.  The only solution is to not engage in such behavior.  You cannot be 100 percent sure that the person you are engaging with is not law enforcement.  Asking the individual if they are law enforcement does not work, as law enforcement is permitted to lie to make an arrest.  They have no duty to tell you the truth.  As a result, when you engage in prostitution, you always run the risk of being arrested.  Therefore, it is advised you not engage in such conduct.

Been Arrested for Prostitution or Solicitation of Prostitution

If you have been arrested for prostitution or solicitation of prostitution, we can help.  We are well experienced in handling such cases, and have defended many such cases.  As former prosecutors, we have also prosecuted these kinds of cases, and are aware of the tactics used by law enforcement, and how prosecutors think.  We are also aware of what law enforcement can and cannot do, and we utilize that knowledge to defend your case.  It is not the time to be embarrassed or ashamed for being arrested.  Your rights and liberties are at risk, so you must get competent representation.

Call the Law Offices of Jeffery Rubenstein at: (310)477-2100.  We can help.

Written by: Philip Cho [Young Sik Cho]



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