California's Prostitution Laws

California's Prostitution Laws

Each state has enacted laws against prostitution and solicitation. In California, prostitution and solicitation are criminalized under Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code. Under Sec. 647(b), anyone age 18 or older commits a misdemeanor offense if they:

  • Solicit prostitution,
  • Agree to engage in prostitution,
  • Offer to engage in prostitution, or
  • Engage in any act of prostitution in exchange for money or anything of value.

To distinguish solicitation from prostitution, “solicitation” means to suggest or offer to engage in the act of prostitution. So, Sec. 647(b) applies to both customers or “Johns” and prostitutes. In other words, engagingand offering to engage (solicitation) in prostitution are treated as the same offense.

Penal Code 647(b) Violations

Whether you’re a prostitute or a customer, you can be charged under Sec. 647(b) for prostitution or solicitation, and here are some examples:

  • A man in a fancy car drives up to a teenage girl and offers her $100 for sex in a local hotel room (solicitation).
  • A woman standing on a street corner in a “seedy” part of town walks up to a man’s car and offers sexual favors for $50.
  • After getting pulled over for speeding, a woman offers to perform sexual favors on the officer in exchange for him not giving her a ticket.
  • A man offers to give a homeless woman heroin in exchange for sex.
  • A woman accepts $20 in exchange for letting a man touch her buttocks and breasts.
  • In response to an online ad, a man has sex with a woman in a motel room in exchange for $150.
  • A “masseuse” at a Bay Area massage parlor accepts money from a client for sexual favors during the massage.

A first prostitution or solicitation offense in California is a misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail, or a fine not to exceed $1,000, or by a fine and imprisonment. If the offense was committed in an automobile and within 1000 feet of a residence, both the prostitute and John could face a 30-day driver license suspension or their license can be restricted for up to six months.

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