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California Penal Code 647(b) PC - Prostitution And Solicitation Laws


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerIn California, engaging in or soliciting prostitution is considered a criminal offense under Penal Code 647(b) PC. Prostitution is defined as the exchange of sexual intercourse or lewd conduct for compensation.


  • A man committing the offense of 647(b) PC by proposing drugs to a woman in exchange for a sexual act.
  • A woman engaging in an act of prostitution by accepting money from a man in exchange for allowing him to fondle her breasts.
  • A police officer violating 647(b) PC by accepting an offer from a woman to exchange sexual favors for avoiding a traffic ticket.

647(b) (1) An individual who solicits, or who agrees to engage in, or who engages in, any act of prostitution with the intent to receive compensation, money, or anything of value from another person. An individual agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when, with specific intent to so engage, the individual manifests an acceptance of an offer or solicitation by another person to so engage, regardless of whether the offer or solicitation was made by a person who also possessed the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution.


This article will cover the legal definitions of “prostitution” and “solicitation” under California law, and provide a detailed explanation.

1. Legal Definitions of Prostitution and Solicitation under California Law”

Under California Penal Code 647b, there are three specific types of acts that are prohibited:

  • engaging in an act of prostitution
  • soliciting an act of prostitution, and
  • agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution

In the context of all three of these acts, “prostitution” refers to engaging in sexual intercourse or performing a lewd act with another individual in exchange for:

  • money or
  • other compensation

Under California law, a “lewd act” or “lewd conduct” refers to touching another person’s genitals, buttocks, or female breast with the intent of:

  • sexual arousal or
  • sexual gratification

1.1 Engaging in an act of prostitution

To be considered engaging in prostitution under California law, an individual must:

  • Willingly and intentionally engage in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with another person; and
  • Do so in exchange for money or some other form of compensation.

In California, the term “willfully” means that an individual engaged in a particular act knowingly and intentionally, without necessarily requiring a specific intent to violate the law.

1.2 Soliciting an act of prostitution

To solicit prostitution under California law, an individual must:

  • Request that another person engage in an act of prostitution; and
  • Have the intention of engaging in an act of prostitution with the other person.

To be convicted of solicitation under California law, it is necessary to demonstrate that an individual had a clear and unequivocal intention of engaging in an act of prostitution.

The following are not acts showing a clear intent to commit prostitution:

  • being present in a known area of prostitution,
  • waving to a passing vehicle,
  • nodding to a stranger, or
  • standing on a street corner in a miniskirt

Example: Lena is an undercover police officer conducting a prostitution sting operation. She is dressed provocatively and standing on a street corner known for prostitution activity. John drives by Lena and honks his horn. Lena approaches the car, and John offers her $100 in exchange for oral sex. He shows her the cash to demonstrate his intent. However, if John were to make the same offer as a joke or prank, without actually intending to engage in prostitution, he would not be guilty of solicitation. This is because he did not have a clear and unequivocal intention of engaging in the act of prostitution.

1.3 Agreeing to engage in prostitution

Under PC 647b, a prosecutor has to prove the following to successfully secure a conviction for “agreeing” to engage in prostitution:

  • up to six months in county jail, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000.

In practice, judges frequently opt for misdemeanor (also referred to as “summary” or “informal”) probation, which typically involves minimal or no jail time.

Conditions of PC 647a probation often include:

  • REQUESTED, SOLICITED, OR AGREED: You requested, solicited, or agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with another person.
  • INTENT: You intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person
  • RECEIVED THE COMMUNICATION: The other person received the communication containing the request, solicitation, or agreement

It should be noted that simply accepting an offer or solicitation does not constitute a violation of this law, unless the person accepting the offer or solicitation actually performs an act to engage in prostitution. With regard to the third element, this additional “something” is more than just agreeing or accepting a solicitation.

Example: Defendant John, a potential client, is driving along Western Avenue looking for a sex worker. He spots Mary, a sex worker, and pulls over to ask her how much she charges for her services. Mary responds, “$200 for a half-hour.” John says “ok, I’m going to go to the ATM across the street and get $200.” Undercover Cop, who is observing the interaction from a nearby location, follows and arrests John for agreeing to engage in prostitution under CPC §647(b)(1). John argues that he never actually engaged in any prostitution and was just inquiring about prices.

Conclusion: While no sex act took place, the willful act of John going to get the money will likely be sufficient to constitute a violation of CPC §647(b)(1). By agreeing to pay Mary $200 for her services, John demonstrated his intent to engage in prostitution. Thus, the prosecutor may successfully secure a conviction for “agreeing” to engage in prostitution against John.

Other Examples:

  • Making the agreed-upon payment to the other person constitutes an act of engaging in prostitution, and thus satisfies the elements of CPC §647(b)(1).
  • Withdrawing money from an ATM in order to pay the other person is an action taken towards engaging in prostitution and can satisfy the elements of CPC §647(b)(1).
  • Driving to an agreed-upon location where the sexual activity will take place is an act demonstrating intent to engage in prostitution, and can fulfill the elements of CPC §647(b)(1).
  • Instructing a customer who has accepted a solicitation to undress is an action taken towards engaging in prostitution and can fulfill the elements of CPC §647(b)(1).

2. What are the penalties for Solicitation of Prostitution in California?

A misdemeanor offense is what you can expect if you are convicted under California’s solicitation and prostitution laws, specifically PC 647b.

If it’s your first time being charged under the statute, the punishment for violating PC 647b can include:

  • imprisonment in county jail (not state prison) for a maximum of six months, and/or
  • a fine of up to $1,000

If you’re facing charges for a second or subsequent offense under the statute, the penalties can be more severe.

  • For a second offense, there is a mandatory minimum of 45 days in county jail
  • while for a third offense, the mandatory minimum increases to 90 days in county jail

Additionally, in certain situations, a judge may choose to suspend your driver’s license for a period of up to 30 days.

It’s important to note that some California sex crimes or sex acts convictions can result in mandatory sex offender registration under California Penal Code 290. However, if you’re convicted of prostitution or solicitation, sex offender registration is not mandatory.

3. Legal defenses to PC 647b charges

In cases involving solicitation and prostitution, it is possible to challenge the allegations against you by presenting a legal defense. There are three common defenses that can be used to challenge these charges, including:

  • Insufficient evidence to support a California prostitution or solicitation charge can be a defense to challenge the prosecution’s case, where the evidence presented is not enough to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the offense.
  • The defense of entrapment can be raised if law enforcement induced or coerced the defendant to commit the crime. This defense asserts that the defendant would not have engaged in the criminal conduct but for the actions of law enforcement.
  • The defense of false accusations can be raised when the defendant is wrongly accused of prostitution or solicitation, either due to mistaken identity, false allegations, or other reasons. This defense challenges the credibility of the accuser and aims to prove that the defendant did not engage in the alleged criminal conduct.

3.1 Insufficient evidence

When evidence is insufficient, it implies that a prosecutor does not have the complete set of evidence necessary to secure a conviction for solicitation or prostitution. As a result, the jury may hold reasonable doubts about the defendant’s guilt, given the partial evidence available.

For example, in a solicitation case, maybe a prosecutor:

  • can show that you requested another person to engage in prostitution, but
  • cannot show that you intended to engage in an act of prostitution.

3.2 Entrapment

If you’re facing charges for prostitution or solicitation following an undercover sting, you may be able to use entrapment as a defense. Entrapment involves the police using excessive or coercive tactics to induce you to commit a crime. To use this defense successfully, you must prove that you only engaged in the actions that led to the California Penal Code 647 b offense due to the undercover police officer’s entrapment.

3.3 Falsely accused

It’s unfortunate that false accusations occur frequently under the prostitution/solicitation statute. Jealousy or revenge may motivate someone to make a false accusation against you. However, regardless of the reason, you can use the defense that you were wrongly accused to fight the charges.

4. Related offenses

There are a total of five crimes related to solicitation and prostitution, which are:

5. Status of Prostitution Legalization Efforts in California

There were recent efforts in California to decriminalize some aspects of prostitution. For instance, in 2021, the California Senate passed Senate Bill 357, which would have repealed PC 653.22 (loitering with the intent to commit prostitution). However, it is important to note that this bill was ultimately vetoed by the Governor and did not become law. There are still ongoing debates and discussions around the decriminalization or legalization of prostitution in California and elsewhere.


Some lawmakers have proposed legalizing prostitution in California as a strategy to combat human trafficking. The argument is that if prostitution were legal, pimps would no longer be able to use the threat of arrest as leverage to force trafficking victims into prostitution. Other states, such as Maine and Oregon, are also considering proposals to legalize prostitution. However, it is worth noting that the legalization of prostitution remains a controversial and heavily debated topic, with supporters and opponents on both sides of the issue.

6. How does the passage of Senate Bill 233 protect sex workers?

Since 2020, carrying condoms can no longer be considered as probable cause by the police to suspect someone of engaging in prostitution and then arrest you for:

  • solicitation
  • loitering, or
  • public nuisance

With the removal of the use of condoms as probable cause, the number of prostitution arrests may decrease, providing sex workers with a greater sense of safety and security in carrying condoms without fear of incrimination.

SB 233 also provides immunity to sex workers from certain low-level criminal charges when they report serious crimes to the police. Before the passing of this bill, sex workers who were victims of or witnesses to serious crimes may have hesitated to contact the police due to the fear of being prosecuted for committing or soliciting prostitution, engaging in loitering with the intent to commit prostitution, creating a public nuisance, engaging in lewd conduct, or committing a misdemeanor drug offense (Penal Code 647(b), Penal Code 653.22, Penal Code 372, Penal Code 647(a).

Now, you are protected from being charged with any of the above crimes when you report either:

  • any serious felony
  • certain serious types of assault, such as: assault with a deadly weapon [Penal Code 245(a)(1)], assault with a firearm [Penal Code 245(a)(2)], and assault by means likely to produce great bodily injury [Penal Code 245(a)(4)]
  • human trafficking [Penal Code 236.1]
  • sexual battery [Penal Code 243.4]
  • stalking [Penal Code 646.9]
  • domestic violence causing a corporal injury [Penal Code 275.5], or
  • extortion [Penal Code 518]

This new law gives you a greater incentive to report pimps and johns who may be abusing you or others.

7. What Can I Do If I’m Charged With Soliciting Prostitution?

Soliciting Prostitution is considered a severe offense in California, and if you’re charged with it, it’s crucial to hire a competent criminal defense lawyer immediately. Your freedom, rights, and career could be jeopardized, and only an experienced attorney can help protect them.

It’s important to keep in mind that hiring an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney can have several benefits, including the ability to:

  • Negotiate a plea bargain for a reduced charge
  • Secure a lighter sentence
  • Potentially get the charges dropped entirely

Cyrus Tabibnia, the owner and head attorney at the Tabibnia Law Firm, possesses a profound understanding of the local courts and an extensive knowledge of California’s criminal justice system. If you or someone you know has been arrested or charged with Soliciting Prostitution under Penal Code 647(b) in Los Angeles, Van Nuys, Beverly Hills, Ventura County, Riverside, San Fernando, Burbank, Santa Monica or Orange County, our Los Angeles Prostitution lawyer is available to assist you. With his top-rated legal expertise, he will evaluate your case and devise the most effective strategy for achieving the best possible outcome.

Time is of the essence, so we recommend contacting you as soon as possible. We may be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to reduce or dismiss your charges before the court date. Additionally, you may be eligible for a diversion program that can help you avoid a criminal conviction and maintain a clean record.

If you need a reliable sex crime defense lawyer in Los Angeles, Southern California, contact Tabibnia Law Firm. We offer a free immediate response when you call us at 866-713-2159, or you can reach us online. Let us examine your case and provide the skilled legal representation you deserve.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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