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California Prostitution Law & Defense


California Penal Code 647(b)(1): Prostitution

There are many different prostitution crimes in California. By far, the most commonly charged California prostitution crime is charged as Penal Code section 647(b). In fact, there are over eleven thousand PC 647(b) arrests or citations issued every year in California. 

This page covers California PC 647(b) charges, including possible defenses to PC 647(b), penalties associated with PC 647(b), post conviction options, and other general information within the topic. For information on other California prostitution crimes please see Common California Prostitution Crimes.

Prostitution Defined

Prostitution is defined as 'engaging in, agreeing to, or solicition of, a lewd act between two or more persons, for payment of money, or other compensation' (PC 647(b)).

The term lewd act in PC 647(b) means intercourse, vaginal or anal, or oral copulation. A lewd act can also be a touching of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person's body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

The touching defined in lewd act does not need to be skin to skin (PC 647(b)).

The term Money in PC 647(b) means cash, or cash equivalentt. Cash equivalent includes, but is not limited to the following: credit card or debit card payments, promissory notes, stocks, bonds, casino chips, and gift certificates.

The term Other compensation in PC 647(b) means benefit or value to the prostitute other than money. This can include, but is not limited to any of the following: 

  • drugs, legal or illegal, offered, or given, in exchange for prostitution services,
  • services, such as auto mechanic or legal services offered, or given, in exchange for prostitution services,
  • trade of personal items, such as jewelry, offered or given, in exchange for prostitution services,
  • promises, such as a promise to perform an act in the future, or a promise to refrain from performing an act in the future in exchange for prostitution services (Example: officer promise not to cite prostitute in exchange for sexual service).

PC 647(b) does not require that Money or other compensation be paid directly to the prostitute. Pimps, massage parlor managers, escort drivers, champagne room attendants, and others, may receive money or other compensation on behalf of a prostitute.

Also, the person who is receiving, or is promised to receive, sexual services in exchange for money or other compensation, does not have to directly pay the prostitute, or any third person, in order to find the defendant guilty of PC 647(b), so long as the person receiving the sexual services in exchange for money or other compensation understands the reason for the payment to the third person and the payment originated from the person who is to receive the sexual services.

Finally, the person who is paying, or offering to pay, a prostitute for sexual services, does not have to be the person who is receiving the sexual services from the prostitute in order to be found guilty of PC 647(b).


  • A person who offers money or drugs to a pimp in exchange for sex from one of the pimp's prostitutes is guilty of PC 647(b); the prostitute is also guilty of prostitution if she performed or promised to perform sex in exchange for money or other compensation from the pimp (Prostitutes are uncharged accomplices to pimping (PC 266h));
  • A person who promises to repair a prostitute's vehicle in exchange for oral sex from the prostitute is guilty of PC 647(b). The prostitute is also guilty of PC 647(b) if she performed, or agreed to perform, sexual services in exchange for vehicle repair;
  • A person who offers money to a prostitute in exchange for the prostitute's sexual services to be performed on a friend of the person offering the money is guilty of PC 647(b), the prostitute is also guilty of PC 647(b) if he or she performed, or agreed to perform the sexual services The friend who received, or was promised to receive, the sexual services from the prostitute might be guilty of PC 647(b) if the friend knew of the payment arrangement and gave some part of the payment for the prostitute, or knowingly incurred a debt to the person paying the prostitute.

The person paying, or offering to pay, money or other compensation to a third person for sexual services is known as the client, or John. The term John usually refers to a person who pays, or offers to pay, for sexual services and receives, or is promised to receive, the sexual service from the prostitute. The term client usually refers to a person who receives, or is promised to receive, sexual services from a prostitute, but is not necessarily the person who pays for the prostitute's services. The person performing, or agreeing to perform sexual services in exchange for money is known as the prostitute or provider.

The crime of prostitution can be committed by either the prostitute or the John. Both prostitutes and Johns are charged under PC 647(b).

As discussed above, prostitution is basically sexual services for money; but, what if a person only requests another person to perform sexual services for money? Or, what if a person doesn't request sexual services for money or other compensation but never the less agrees to perform sexual services for money or other compensation?  Finally, what if there is evidence that two or more people are engaged in prostitution but there is no evidence of a solicitation or an agreement to commit that prostitution?

To cover these three scenarios the California legislature has defined PC 647(b) to include a solicitation of prostitution, an agreement to commit prostitution, and engaging in prostitution. All three scenarios are charged under PC 647(b). (Leffel v. Municipal Court (1976)).

Solicitation of Prostitution

To solicit a prostitute means to communicate, by words or conduct, an offer or a request, to another person to engage in prostitution. Enticing or encouraging another person to commit a prostitution can also be a solicitation under PC 647(b). The defendant need not make an express verbal offer of sex to constitute a solicitation for prostitution (People v. Mecano (2013)). It also does not matter that money or other compensation was exchanged in solicitation cases; it is the solicitation itself that is criminal.

For soliciting prostitution cases the defendant must specifically intend to commit prostitution; it does not matter if the prostitute actually agrees to engage in prostitution, or that any lewd act actually occurred, so long as the defendant intended to commit prostitution. In other words, it is a defense to a charge of soliciting a prostitute to show evidence that the defendant was only joking or making offers to prostitutes in jest.

It is also a defense to a charge of soliciting a prostitute to show that the person who was the intended recipient of the solicitation (the prostitute or undercover police officer posing as a prostitute) never actually received the communication or request for sexual services.

(More on Defenses to Prostitution below)

Agree to Commit Prostitution

It is illegal to agree to commit prostitution. To agree to commit prostitution the person who agrees must have been solicited.

To prove that the defendant is guilty of agreeing to commit prostitution charged under PC 647(b), the prosecutor will need to prove all of the following: 

  • the defendant accepted an offer (solicitation) for sexual services in exchange for money or other compensation,
  • and the defendant performed some act in furtherance of the commission of the crime,
  • the defendant specifically intended to agree to prostitution,

To accept an offer for prostitution is to communicate, by words or conduct, an agreement to the terms of the offer (the solicitation).

An act in furtherance of prostitution means that the defendant did something in addition to and after agreeing to commit prostitution that helps interpret the meaning of the agreement (In re Cheri T (1999)). The act in furtherance of the crime of prostitution must come after the agreement. For example an act in furtherance of the crime of prostitution can include, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • driving to a location to meet a prostitute for  sex after an agreement is made with the prostitute for sex,
  • paying money for sex after an agreement is made to exchange money for sex,
  • undressing after an agreement is made with a person to exchange sexual services for money,
  • buying condoms on the way to meet a prostitute after an agreement is made with the prostitute to exchange sex for money.

The act in furtherance of the crime of prostitution can consist of words alone as long as the words are unequivocal and unambiguous in conveying that the agreed act of prostitution will occur (Kim v. Superior Court (2006)).

As to specific intent to agree to commit prostitution: It does not matter if the person offering the sexual services for hire actually intended to commit prostitution, only that the person who agreed to the offer actually intended to commit prostitution (People v. Dell (1991)). It is a defense to a charge of agreeing to commit prostitution to show that the defendant did not specifically intend to agree to commit prostitution, but rather, agreed to an offer of prostitution as a joke, or in jest. Circumstantial evidence may be used to prove the intentions of the defendant. (More on Defenses to Prostitution Below)

For example, in sting operations, an undercover officer makes offers for sexual services to suspected prostitutes; the officer also agrees to solicitations for sexual services from suspected prostitutes, but the officer neither intends to pay for sexual services, nor intends to fulfill any sexual service to which he or she otherwise agreed.

Furthermore, the act in furtherance of the agreement to commit prostitution must come after the agreement is made. For example, if the John purchased condoms on his way to meet a prostitute, but the John did not agree to commit prostitution until after he purchased the condoms, then the fact that the John purchased condoms can not used as an act in furtherance of the agreement to commit prostitution because the John purchased the condoms before he agreed to commit prostitution.

Note: One California court has disagreed with the requirement that an act in furtherance of an agreement to commit prostitution must come after the agreement itself, if the act that was in furtherance of the crime came before the agreement but was clear as to the defendant's intent before he or she agreed to commit prostitution. (See People v. Davis (1988) as compared to In re Cheri T (1999)).

Engage in Prostitution

it is illegal to engage in prostitution. Engaging in prostitution means that a lewd act in exchange for money or other compensation occurred but there is no evidence of the solicitation for prostitution or the agreement to commit prostitution. Circumstantial evidence will be need to prove engagement in prostitution case.

For example, if a police officer catches a known prostitute having sex in a vehicle with a known John, but neither the prostitute, nor the John, admit to solicitation for prostitution or agreement to commit prostitution, then the prosecutor might still be able to prove that the prostitute, or the John, or both, engaged in prostitution by using the surrounding evidence. This evidence of the circumstance can include the reputation of the prostitute or John, the criminal history or the defendant, the presence of materials usually associated with prostitution such as condom, drugs, cash, wipes, etc., witnesses other than the prostitute or the John who witnessed cash transactions, the reputation of the location where the crime occurred as known to be frequented by prostitutes or John, etc.

Of course, cases of engaging in prostitution are more difficult for the prosecutor to prove than solicitation or agreement cases, but circumstantial evidence may be used to support any PC 647(b) conviction. By far, most prostitution cases are charged as a solicitation for prostitution or as agreement to commit prostitution.

In sum, PC 647(b) covers several variations of circumstances whereby a defendant, either a John or a prostitute, can be charged for soliciting prostitution, agreeing to commit prostitution, or engaging in prostitution. 

Evidence Used to Prove Prostitution

Evidence used to prove the crime of prostitution must be relevant and reliable (Evidence Code  350). In other words, anything that reasonably tends to prove that the crime occurred and that the defendant is the one who committed the crime may be introduced as evidence, so long as that evidence is trustworthy, legally admitted, and not subject to exclusion for some reason such as privileged information or the product of an illegal search or seizure.

The list of common evidence used in PC 647(b) cases includes, but is not limited to, any of the following:

  • text or voice message evidence
  • Internet advertisements, including cryptic code words
  • circumstantial evidence of intent, including drugs, cash, condoms, wipes, appointment books, receipts
  • criminal history of defendant
  • video or audio recordings of transactions and conduct
  • confessions, statements
  • forensic evidence, including semen, hair, blood, saliva
  • receipts for services
  • Act or conduct in furtherance of agreement (for agree to commit prostitution cases) and more.

Defense to Prostitution

Below is a short list of the most common defenses to prostitution charges filed under PC 647(b):

S.B. 1322: Per California Senate Bill 1322 (SB-1322), which was signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown on 9/26/2016, the crimes defined in Penal Code section 647(b), prostitution, and 653.22(a), loitering with intent to commit prostitution, no longer apply to minors under the age of 18.

Per SB-1322, a new California Penal Code section was added as PC 647(b)(2), which excludes minors prosecution under both PC 647(b) prostitution, and 653.22(a) loiter with intent to commit prostitution. This defense applies to minors under the age of 18 even if all of the elements of the crimes otherwise exist; however, if a minor commit an act that otherwise would constitute prostitution under PC 647(b) or loitering with intent to commit prostitution under PC 653.22(a), he or she may be committed as a dependent child of the state in a juvenile proceeding (WIC 300 & 305). SB 1322 does not apply to defendants who solicit minors for prostitution (PC 647(m)(1)).

SB 1322 was designed to protect exploited children of human trafficking from suffering the stigma of a PC 647(b) prostitution, or 653.22(a) loitering with intent to commit prostitution, conviction. Additionally, SB 1322 does not allow for a child prostitute to be an uncharged accomplice to the crime of pimping, which was previously allowed under PC 266h.. 

Entrapment Defense: Entrapment occurs when law enforcement, or their agents, encourage or promote a crime by way of their overbearing conduct. For example, if an undercover police officer entices a defendant to commit prostitution by repeat and insistent request, and the defendant thereafter commits the crime as a result of that repeat and insistent request, the police officer may have entrapped the defendant to commit the crime. 

In prostitution entrapment defense cases, even if the defendant is otherwise guilty of the crime he or she may be entitled to a not guilty verdict if he or she was entrapped.

The defendant has the burden of proving entrapment by a preponderance of the evidence. A preponderance of the evidence means more likely than not. A preponderance of the evidence is a lower burden of proof than beyond a reasonable doubt. Procedurally, the district attorney must first prove the crime was committed, or the defendant must plead guilty to the crime; thereafter, the burden shifts to the defendant to prove that he or she was entrapped.

Note: Defendant does not have to admit guilt in order to assert that he or she was entrapped (People v. Perez (1965)).

Examples: Law enforcements' flattery or coaxing, repeated or insistent requests, appeals to sympathy or friendship, or promotion or pressure, to commit a crime.

In entrapment defense cases it is the conduct of the officers that is the primary focus. lf the conduct of the officers would cause a normally law-abiding citizen to commit a crime then the defendant may have been entrapped (People v. Barraza (1979). 

Insufficient Evidence: Insufficient evidence simply means not enough evidence to prove the criminal charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Sometimes, the prosecutor starts with enough evidence to prove the crime of prostitution beyond a reasonable doubt, but after successful defense motions to exclude some of the evidence there is insufficient remaining evidence to prove the criminal charge. Defense motions to exclude evidence are usually based on misconduct of the arresting officers.

Whether or not there is sufficient evidence to prove the crime of prostitution is subjective. Often times, defense attorneys and district attorneys disagree on the strength or the weight of the evidence. Thus, insufficient evidence is somewhat least until a jury decides the issue.

For PC 647(b) cases with weak evidence the defense attorney, and the district attorney, can usually agree to a reduction of the criminal charges, or a reduction of the penalties associated with the charge. This process of negotiating for lesser charges or lesser penalties in a criminal case is known as plea bargain (More on Plea Bargains in PC 647(b) cases below).

Police Misconduct & Miranda Violations: The topic of police officer misconduct as applied to prostitution defense is a lengthy legal topic. For brevity, only the most basic description of police officer misconduct, as it relates to prostitution defense, is discussed. 

In most criminal cases, the police must obtain a search warrant, supported by Probable Cause, before any officer may search a house, building, cell phone, or vehicle, for evidence. In addition, police must ordinarily obtain a suspect's waiver of rights to remain silent and right to have an attorney present during questioning before any questioning by law police (U.S. Constitution 4th, 5th & 6th Amendment, also Miranda v. Arizona (1966)). 

Warrantless searches of houses, buildings, cell phones, and vehicles, and seizures of evidence or statements without warrants or waivers, might be considered a violation of the defendant's constitutional rights to privacy and privileges against self-incrimination, and as such, any evidence obtained during a search or seizure without a warrant, and any statements made by the defendant, might be ruled inadmissible in a criminal case.

Other police misconduct issues that might lead to a defense in a PC 647(b) case include, racial profiling by police officers, coerced confessions, excessive force by police, failure to turn over evidence favorable to defendant, false reporting by police, entrapment by officers, and more. 

Police misconduct is not always intentional. In fact, in most warrantless search or seizure cases, coerced confessions cases, and entrapment cases, the officers are not trying to violate the defendant's rights, but rather, like any of us, police officers are human and sometimes they make mistakes.

Statute of Limitations: The statute (or law) of limitations is a rule that bars (stops) prosecution of criminal cases after a certain time from the date of incident. PC 647(b) are filed as misdemeanors in California. Misdemeanors have a one year statute of limitations. There is no exception to this one year rule (PC 19, 802, and 647(b))

Intoxication: If a person is so intoxicated by alcohol or drugs, or both, that he or she could not understand the wrongfulness of his or her act, or appreciate the nature and quality of what he or she was doing at the time of the offense, then the defendant may be entitled to a verdict of not guilty by reason of intoxication. Prostitution is a specific intent crime and intoxication defense applies to specific intent crimes.

Jury Nullification: Jury nullification is a process whereby the jury, or an individual juror, believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant violated PC 647(b); however, for moral, political, personal, or other reasons, the jury, or any individual juror, votes not guilty. 

In prostitution cases, it is not uncommon for a jury, or any individual juror, to hold the belief that two consenting adults, who are making a business transaction involving a common and natural adult activity, that occurs hundred of millions a times a day, and is otherwise legal without the element of payment, and is not harming any third person, and is in fact legal in many parts of the world, including parts of the United States, and is strikingly similar to legal prostitution...should not be considered a crime. (More on Pornography v. Prostitution Below)

Disclaimers: Disclaimers are not a defense to prostitution crimes. A disclaimer is language that is commonly placed on provider's Internet website or classified advertisement and is intended to serve as a "contract" between the provider and the prospective John. The "contract" attempts to limit the provider's services in advance of verbal communication with the prospective John so as to insulate the provider from prospective PC 647(b) charges. These "disclaimer contracts" have no legal authority and never serves as a defense to prostitution if all of the elements to PC 647(b) are otherwise present.

Examples of disclaimers generally appear to similar to the following:

  • 'services provided are for companionship only and not as an agreement for sexual services'
  • 'by using this provider's service, you hereby claim that you are not associated with law enforcement'
  • 'any money paid to provider for any service provided is considered a donation and not as consideration for an agreement for sex'

Code Words: Use of words that are intended as ciphers or codes for other words will not provide a defense to PC 647(b) crimes.

Some Internet providers use code words for what otherwise would a sexual service, or payment. These code words are used by providers in an attempt to avoid using language that is clearly inculpatory.

Examples of common code words used by providers include: BB (bareback, no condom required]); MSOG (multiple shots (orgasms) on goal); GFE (girlfriend experience); Roses & Donations (cash amount requested); FS (full service, includes vaginal intercourse); Greek (anal sex, a reference to the prevalence of anal sex in Greek Society); DATY (cunnilingus, reference to the shape of female body while receiving cunnilingus); Russian (stroke penis with female breasts, origin unknown) and hundreds more....

When providers use code words to conceal terms that otherwise would implicate prostitution activity the district attorney simply uses a prostitution expert who testifies and deciphers the code words for a jury, and therefore, the use code words by providers create zero defense for PC 647(b) charges.

Additional PC 647(b) Defense Information

Police officers are constitutionally permitted to misrepresent themselves as not being associated with law enforcement when asked by prospective prostitutes or Johns; therefore, contrary to popular belief, A police officer does not have to tell you the truth if you ask the officer if he or she is a police officer. If officers were required to tell the truth when asked if they are associated with law enforcement they would be severely limited in their ability to carry out sting operations.

Additionally, other less common procedural defenses could apply to a PC 647(b)  case depending on the facts of the case. These procedural defenses include: confidential communications privilege (doctor/patient, spouse/marital, priest penitent), lack of proper jurisdiction, double jeopardy, ex post facto, Due Process violations, alibi defense, mistake of fact, and more.

Finally, it is not a violation of PC 647(b) to merely be present at the time other persons are engaged in prostitution (People v. Francis (1969)). This defense is available to persons who are attending an event as spectators where prostitution is occurring but where the spectators themselves are not otherwise involved in the prostitution activity. Most mere presence defense cases arise in the context of attendance at swingers' clubs, (Lifestyle Clubs) with paid sex performers, bachelor parties with strippers committing lewd acts on spectators, strip club champagne room spectators, or for persons that video record prostitutes engaged in prostitution with others. The defense is available so long as the viewer does nothing to promote the crime of prostitution (Wooten v. Superior Court) (2001)).

Plea Bargaining for Lesser Crime or Less Jail Time

The best result in any prostitution case is a complete dismissal of the criminal charge. However, if the criminal charge is not dismissed, the defendant may still benefit from a well negotiated Plea Bargain. Plea bargaining is the process of negotiating a guilty, or no contest plea from the defendant, in exchange for either a reduced criminal charge (charge bargaining) or less jail time (sentence bargaining) from the district attorney or the judge.

Common plea bargains in PC 647(b) cases include: Plead guilty or no contest to the crime of PC 647(b) with reduced penalties; or plead guilty or no contest to a lesser crime, such as a plea to the crime of criminal trespass, or disturbing the peace.

Punishment, Fines & Penalties for PC 647(b)

First Offense: PC 647(b) is filed as a misdemeanor. For a first offense misdemeanor conviction of PC 647(b), the defendant faces up to one hundred eighty (180) days in the county jaill (Penal Code 19).

In addition, the defendant may be placed on informal probation with terms and conditions, including restraining orders and monetary fines. The defendant will also be ordered to take an AIDS HIV education class and submit to AIDS testing. Finally, the defendant may have his or her driving license suspended if the defendant used his or her vehicle during the commission of the crime and within a one thousand feet of a residence (vehicle may also be impounded for thirty days on conviction of multiple prostitution offenses) (Vehicle Codes 22659.5, 13201.5, & Penal Code 647(k)).

Additional penalties for PC 647(b) convictions, including second and third offense convictions, is listed in the right column at the top of this page and can be accessed quickly by clicking on Prostitution Penalties.

Post Conviction Remedies

Not all defendants charged with a crime are convicted . A conviction means entry of guilty plea, no contest plea, or a finding of guilt after a jury trial. When a criminal case is dismissed for lack of sufficient evidence or other reason, the defendant may request from the court that he or she be found factually innocent.

For defendant's convicted of PC 647(b) charges, remedies include:

  • Withdrawal of a guilty plea (PC 1018)
  • Appeal the prostitution conviction (PC 1466)
  • Modify probation terms or length (PC 1203.3)
  • Expunge the conviction (PC 1203.4)
  • Warrant recalls and violation of probation defense

The Right Attorney for the Job

If your already charged with PC 647(b) we don't have to tell you about the stress, anxiety, and fear of not knowing what to expect in court. You're thinking about the possible penalties and costs financially and emotionally, and how they will affect you, your family, and your future. You're  thinking about possible defenses and your searching the Internet and attorneys for answers.

We have the answers to your questions and we know how to successfully defend your case without breaking your budget. We can even handle your case without you going to court in most cases. Communications with our law firm are always confidential and billing is discreet.

Our prostitution defense attorney have successfully defended hundreds of prostitution charges, including criminal charges of PC 647(b) engaging in, agreeing to, or soliciting prostitution, PC 653.22 loiter to commit prostitution, and  PC 315 Keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame.

Our attorneys are intimately familiar with the law and procedure surrounding prostitution charges and we have experience in all San Bernardino, Riverside, Los Angeles, and Orange County courts, including the cities of Fontana, Rancho Cucamonga, Rialto, Colton, Victorville, Redlands, Yucaipa, Highland, San Bernardino, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Pomona, West Covina, Corona, Norco, Chino, Beaumont, Ontario, Hesperia, LA, and more.

Our attorneys are available to answer your questions free of charge Monday thru Sat from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.


Se habla espanol / Abogados de defensa criminal


Prostitution Penalties for PC 647(b)

PC 647(b) 1st Offense Conviction: Punishment can include any or all of the following:

County Jail Sentence: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant could face up to 180 days of in-custody jail as part of his or her sentence; however, work release, or electronic monitoring (house arrest) might be available as a condition of probation (Penal Code 647(b) & 1203).

Probation: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant could be placed on probation (typically (3-5 years). Probation is "summary probation," which is also known as "Court probation" or "Informal Probation." In some cases of prostitution the defendant may receive terminal disposition, which means no probation even if the defendant is convicted of the PC 647(b) charge (Penal Code 1203);

Mandatory HIV Testing: If convicted of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant must be ordered to submit to an AIDS HIV test, the results of which are given to the defendant and the court so that the defendant is made aware of his or her AIDS HIV status and can therefore be prosecuted for felony prostitution (or other sex crime) in the future (Penal Code 1202.6, 647(b), & 647f);

AIDS HIV Education Class:  If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant will be ordered to attend and AIDS HIV awareness class (Penal Code 1202.6 & 1001.10). Classes must be certified by the county as an acceptable AIDS education class.

Restraining Orders: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant may be restrained from certain parts of a city known to be frequented by prostitutes (usually the site where the crime took place such as a hotel). The defendant may also be restrained from visiting websites that advertise prostitution. These restraining orders are not pursuant to Penal Code 273.6, which are crime in and of themselves; rather, the restraining orders are made a part of the terms and conditions of probation (Penal Code 1203);

Monetary Fines: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant will be ordered to pay penalty fee The fees are statutory and change by date of offense. The current statutory fees are one thousand dollars ($1,000) maximum. Procuring an underage prostitute conviction can carry up to a twenty-five thousand dollar fine ($25,000) (Penal Code 261.9(a) & 647(m)(1))

Professional License Consequences: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant may have his or her professional, business, or occupational license suspended or revoked. The crime of prostitution is considered a moral turpitude crime, conviction of which, could cause negative consequences for California Bar, Board, and Commission members. This includes, doctors, dentist, lawyers, teachers, social workers, boxers, cosmetologists, psychiatrists, therapists, CPAs, real estate agents and brokers, and more. (California Code of Regulations Title 16);

Immigration Consequences:  If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the non-United States citizen defendant could be deported from, or denied entry into, the United States. This is true even though PC 647(b) is classified as a misdemeanor when the defendant has been previously convicted of a crime in the United States (U.S. Code 8, Section 1227); 

Family Law Penalties: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant could suffer the additional collateral penalty of the loss of family law rights to adoption, child visitation, and child custody (Family Code 3000 et seq & 8700 et seq);

Website publication: Some counties post convicted John's picture and name on the county website for any conviction of PC 647(b) or 653.22(a) loiter with intent to commit prostitution. This penalty is not associated with sex offender registration under Penal Code 290, but rather,  the penalty extends to county website publishing only;

Sex offender registration: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant could suffer the very harsh penalty of being required to register as a sex offender pursuant to California Penal Code Section 290. This penalty is unusual in most PC 647(b) or 653.22(a) loiter with intent to commit prostitution cases. However, it is possible that a court may order this unusual harsh penalty if the judge finds that the defendant committed the crime of prostitution because of a sexual compulsion or to satisfy a sexual desire (Penal Code 290.006). Most prostitution cases charged as PC 647(b) or 653.22(a) are arguably committed to fulfill a sexual desire; however, the penalty of PC 290 registration as a sex offender for prostitution convictions is unusual;

Vehicle impounded / license suspension: If the defendant used his or her vehicle within 1000 feet of a residence during the commission of a prostitution crime, the defendant may have his or her driving license suspended (Vehicle Code 13201.5). For multiple convictions of PC 647(b), the defendant may his or her vehicle impounded for up to thirty (30) days (Vehicle Code 22659.5).

Massage License Revocation: If found guilty of PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, the defendant may lose his or her massage license. This penalty is more commonly associated with prostitution in massage parlors. For prostitution that occurs in massage parlors the defendant might also face additional charges depending on whether or not the defendant also manages or operates the massage parlor where prostitution is occurring (Penal Code 315 [keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame], Penal Code 316 [Leasing a house of prostitution or ill fame], & Government Code 51032);

Red Light Abatement Law: If found guilty of prostitution, the defendant may have his or her house or building sold by the government to abate a nuisance (the nuisance of prostitution). This is an extreme penalty that is sought by the district attorney where the premises, such a house or building, is used to support the crime of prostitution. This penalty generally relates to prostitution in strip clubs and massage parlors that are being used to support prostitution activity. The sale of the house or building is only one penalty the government may seek under Red Light Abatement Law. Other penalties may apply. For more information on Red Light Abatement Law please visit the penalties section of PC 315 keeping a house of prostitution (Penal Code 11225-11235, 315, & 316);

Violation of Probation: If the defendant is on probation at the time he or she is cited or arrested for prostitution, then the defendant's citation or arrest for prostitution will usually trigger a violation the defendant's probation. The penalties associated with a violation of probation depend on the underlying criminal conviction that resulted in probation in the first place (Penal Code 1203); 

PC 647(b) 2nd Conviction: Penalties & Punishment:

All the penalties and punishments listed for a first offense PC 647(b) conviction are the same for second offense convictions, except that jail is from 45 - 180 days. In other words, there is a minimum of 45 days jail time required for a second conviction of PC 647(b).

This mandatory minimum applies if the defendant admits the prior PC 647(b) conviction or that fact is found true by a judge or jury, and the prior conviction is charged in the accusatory pleading (Penal Code 647(b)).

PC 647(b) 3rd Offense Penalties & Punishment:

All the penalties and punishments listed for a first offense PC 647(b) conviction are the same for a third conviction except that jail is from 90-180 days. In other words, there is a minimum of 90 days jail required for a third offense conviction of PC 647(b). 

This mandatory minimum applies if the defendant admits the prior PC 647(b) conviction or that fact is found true by a judge or jury, and the prior convictions are charged in the accusatory pleading (Penal Code 647(b))..

Penalty for Attempted Prostitution (PC 664/647(b):

This is an unusual prostitution crime. It is usually reserved as a plea bargain reduction to a PC 647(b) charge. When attempted prostitution is charged it is filed as 664/647(b), which is the California code sections for attempt (PC 664) and prostitution (PC 647(b)).

To attempt prostitution means to make a intended effort to commit prostitution with a substantial step towards committing the crime of prostitution, but for some evidentiary reason, the target offense (engaging in, agreeing to, or soliciting prostitution) is not committed.

For example, attempted solicitation of a prostitute might be charged where the defendant intended to solicit a prostitute but the communication was not received by the prostitute (See evidentiary requirements for soliciting a prostitute on this page at left).

Punishment and Penalties for attempted prostitution under PC 644/647(b) are the same as that for a regular PC 647(b) conviction (see above), except that the maximum amount of jail commitment is half of whatever the crime would otherwise be, and penalty fine is up to five hundred ($500) dollars (instead of one thousand ($1,000).

San Bernardino County

Upland, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, Chino, Fontana, Rialto, Redlands, Colton, San Bernardino, Victorville, Yucaipa, Hesperia, Highland, Lake Arrowhead, Montclair, Chino, Apple Valley, Jurupa Valley

Riverside County

Moreno Valley, Corona, Riverside, Norco, Eastvale, Banning, Beaumont, Perris, Hemet, Palm Springs

Los Angeles County

San Dimas, LaVerne, West Covina, Pomona, Los Angeles, LaVerne, Pasadena, Alhambra Beverly Hills

Orange County

Fullerton, Orange, Anaheim, Yorba Linda, Placentia, Tustin, Newport Beach, Brea, Santa Ana


Professional / Occupation Licenses & PC 647(b):

The following is a list of professions and occupations that might be affected for any arrest and/or conviction of prostitution under PC 647(b): This list is not complete but represents the majority of professions that could be negatively affected by a conviction of PC 647(b). It is important to understand that every profession that is licensed in California has its own rules and regulations for reporting an arrest or citation of a criminal charge. In addition, the disciplinary procedures are different with each professional agency as well.

Most professional licensees are entitled to an administrative proceeding before any discipline may be levied against the professional. For more information on PC 647(b) prostitution convictions and the penalties for professionals, please see California Code of Regulations Title 16 Professional and Vocational Regulations, and at the links listed in this section.

Phlebotomists: CA Dept. of Public Health

Medical Doctors: Medical Board of California
Psychologists: California Board of Psychology
Lawyers (Attorneys): State Bar of California
Dentists: Dental Board of California
Cosmetologists: Board of Barbering & Cosmetology
Nurses: Board of Registered Nursing
Accountants: (CPA), California Board of Accountancy
Veterinarians: California Veterinary Medical Board
Pharmacists: California Board of Pharmacy
Boxing: California State Athletic Commission
Therapists: CA Board of Occupational Therapy
Ophthalmologists: California Board of Optometry
Liquor Distributors: CA Alcohol Beverage Control
Teachers: Commission on Teaching Credentialing

Real Estate Agents California Bureau of Real Estate

Chiropractors CA Board of Chiropratic Examiners

Contractors Contractors State License Board

Southern California Prostitution Defense Attorneys


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Related Crimes to Prostitution Charged as PC 647(b)

Here you will find more California prostitution crimes that are closely related to PC 647(b). Not all of the following crimes are misdemeanors and the punishments can vary greatly with each crime.

Loiter to Commit Prostitution: The crime of Loiter with intent to Commit Prostitution is discussed in further detail within this website at PC 653.22(a). The offense is perhaps the second most commonly charged prostitution crime in California.

Keeping a House of Prostitution or ill Fame: The crime of keeping a house of prostitution (also known as keeping a house of ill fame (ill repute) is discussed in further detail within this website at PC 315.

Attempted Prostitution: To attempt to commit prostitution means that the defendant made a substantial step towards the commission of the crime of prostitution with the intent to commit the crime. Attempted prostitution is charged where the evidence proves that the defendant took some measure to commit prostitution and that he or she intended to commit the crime but there is insufficient evidence to prove that prostitution actually took place (whether by engaging in, agreeing to, or soliciting prostitution). This might occur in a solicitation case where the intended solicitation was not effectively communicated. Attempted prostitution might also be charged as a reduced charged during plea bargain negotiations. Attempted prostitution, is charged under PC 664/647(b); the punishment carries up to half of the jail time of a PC 647(b) conviction. Other penalties are similar for both crimes. The maximum fine for attempted prostitution is currently $500. 

Abduction for Prostitution: Per PC 267, it is a crime to take a minor away from his or her legal guardian for the purpose of prostituting that person. This is very serious felony. If convicted, the defendant could face up to three years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender such as sex offender registration.

Human Trafficking: This is very serious crime whereby the defendant is charged with forcing another person into prostitution. The crime is charged under PC 236.1 and carries up to a 20 year prison sentence. Under federal law, human trafficking of multiple victims can also be charged as a RICO violation (Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations [Organized Crime]). Additionally, any person who takes another person across state lines for prostitution can be criminally charged under the federal Mann Act, which punishes prostitution on a federal level. Sex offender registration is part of the punishment along with other harsh penalties.

Aiding or Supervising a Prostitute: PC 653.23 makes it a crime to supervise a person in committing prostitution under PC 647(b). This is distinct from pimping in that the person supervising is not necessarily receiving a benefit from the prostitution activity. It is a non-sex offender registration offense and is classified as a misdemeanor. The defendant may be punished up to 180 days in the county jail. This crime is closely related to the crime of receiving money from a prostitute knowing that the money was earned by prostituting (PC 653.23(a)(2)). 

Seduction for Prostitution: The crime of seduction of prostitution involves encouraging or enticing a minor into working in a house of ill fame (house of prostitution), or encouraging a minor to live with and have sexual relations with a man. The crime is charged under PC 266 and carries up to a three year prison sentence as a felony, and up to a one year sentence as a misdemeanor. It also carries sex offender registration among other penalties.

Indecent Exposure: Often times the defendant can not be charged with prostitution under PC 647(b) due to the lack of evidence (no agreement, engagement, or solicitation of prostitution evidence); however, the defendant will expose his or her genitals during the course of an attempted prostitution to prove that he or she is not involved with law enforcement. In these cases, the prosecutor may charge the defendant with the crime of indecent exposuree under PC 314. Indecent exposure is the public display of the defendant's genitals made for the purpose of sexual arousal to either the defendant or the victim (viewer). This is very serious crime despite the fact that it is usually charged as a misdemeanor (felony charges possible under certain circumstances). Sex offender registration is required for any conviction as part of the punishment, which can include up to 180 in jail as a misdemeanor and three years in prison as a felony.

Lewd Act in Public: Charged where the defendant and the prostitute are caught having sex, or sexual contact, in public, but the evidence is not strong enough to support a prostitution conviction under PC 647(b). Disorderly conduct is charged under PC 647(a) and carries up to 180 days in jail. There is no requirement to register as a sex offender as a penalty.

Prostituting Wife: This crime is self-explanatory. It is a crime under California Penal Code section 266g to prostitute your wife. The crime is punishable by up to three years in prison if convicted but it does not require sex offender registration as a penalty. It is a crime under PC 266g to leave a wife in a house of prostitution, even if the defendant does nothing more to encourage any prostitution activity. This crime has a special defense of Marital or Spousal Privilege, whereby the spouse can not be forced to testify against the other spouse in some situations.

Pandering: This felony crime is charged where a person procures, encourages, or induces another person for prostitution and receives money or other benefit by way of the procurement (not from the prostitution income). Pandering is charged under PC 266i. It is very serious crime that exposes the defendant to six years in prison, including a requirement to register as a sex offender if convicted. The prostitute may be charged separately under PC 647(b) for prostitution.

Pimping: The crime of pimping is found at PC 266h. The crime is proved when the district attorney can prove that the defendant received a known benefit, such as money, drugs, or other consideration, from a prostitute, by aiding, assisting, luring, or requesting the prostitute to commit the crime of prostitution as defined in PC 647(b). Pimping conviction carry stiff prison sentences and usually mandatory sex offender registration. The prostitute can not be charged with conspiracy to commit pimping as the law was designed to protect sex workers and therefore the prostitute remains an uncharged accomplice under PC 266h, even if the prostitute otherwise commit the crime of prostitution defined under PC 647(b). 

Rape: Rape is defined as sexual intercourse with a woman, without consent of the woman, who is not the wife of the defendant PC 261. Presumably, a prostitute agrees to sexual activity with the defendant, and therefore, there is no crime of rape; however, if the prostitute does not agree to actual intercourse, or she agrees to intercourse but changes her mind about consent to intercourse, and informs the defendant of her changed mind, then the defendant can be charged with rape incident to the crime of prostitution. The crime of rape carries different penalties depending on the circumstances of the case but the most common criminal rape conviction subjects the defendant to eight years maximum in state prison and lifetime sex offender registration.

Felony Prostitution: Prostitution, by itself, is almost always classified as a misdemeanor. However, PC 647f makes prostitution a felony where the defendant has at least one prior conviction of PC 647(b) and the AIDS test per that PC 647(b) conviction was positive (meaning the defendant knew he or she had AIDS). The punishment is up to three years in prison if found guilty. This is not a sex offender registration crime but because it is a felony, the defendant will lose his or her right to own or possess a firearm if convicted, along with other probation or parole terms and penalties.


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Prostitution Related Crimes

PC 647(b) engage, agree, or solicit prostitution;

PC 653.22(a) loiter with intent to commit prostitution;
PC 315 keeping a house of prostitution or il repute;
PC 266h(a) pimping;
PC 266i pandering;
PC 266g prostituting wife,
PC 267 abduction of minor for prostitution;
PC 236.1 human trafficking;
PC 266 seduction of minor for prostitution;
PC 647(m)(1) prostitution soliciting a minor;
PC 647f prostitution w/prior conviction and HIV
RICO federal racketeering involving prostitution,
PC 314 indecent exposure;
PC 647(a) disorderly conduct;
PC 415 disturbing the peace;
PC 602 trespassing; 
PC 11225 red light abatement law;
PC 266a abduction of adult for prostitution;
PC 316 leasing a disorderly house of prostitution

SB 1322 (SB-1322) & 647(b)(2) Underage Prostitution

The difference between pornography and prostitution?

Strangely, If the defendant is engaged in, agreed to, or solicited, sex for money, while being licensed by the state of California as an adult sex film actor, he or she is not guilty of a prostitution under PC 647(b).

The same is true for persons who procure other people for adult sex film acting that otherwise would be charged with the very serious crime of pandering (PC 266i), and persons who earn a living from other people engaged in adult film sex acting, that otherwise would be charged with the very serious crime of pimping (PC 266h). 

Adult sex films are considered Free Speech, with some measure of artistic, scientific, or literary value. Not all adult films qualify as protected speech or expression, but if you have seen adult sex film videos, it seems that what qualifies as protected speech, outside of films that include minors, is limited only as to the limits of imagination.  

The actors, producers, and distributors of pornography are all licensed by law; the porn actors' information, including prove of age, is kept by a custodian or records. This makes the conduct that otherwise would be considered pornography, easy to tax, as well as keep track of the actors' health records. (See California v. Miller describing the difference between porn and obscenity, People v. Freeman, regarding pornography as Free Speech, Title 18, U.S. Code Section 2257, regarding pornography regulations, PC 647(b), 266h, and 266i).

Prostitution Laws in Foreign Countries:

Related websites dedicate more time to the subject of prostitution laws, defenses, and punishments in foreign countries. Good sources of information on foreign country prostitution laws, legalization, decriminalization, and penalties are found at Wikipedia in re Prostitution Laws.

More Information on Prostitution and PC 647(b):

1) (Sex Crimes in General)
2) CriminalDefense909 (Criminal Defense in General)
3) Sex Workers' Rights Oragnizations
4) National Human Trafficking Resource Center
5) Legalizing Prostitution in CA (The Pros and Cons)
6) World History of Prostitution
7) Regulations in the Adult Film Industry
8) History of Prostitution in America

9) Immigrant Consequences & Crimes of Prostitution

California Penal Code 647(b)Prostitution Law & Defense

Prostitution Defense Lawyers - Criminal Defense Lawyers - Sex Crimes Defense Lawyers - DUI Lawyer - Divorce Lawyers