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California Penal Code 653.22 PC - Loitering For Prostitution Laws


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerUnder California Penal Code Section 653.22(a) PC, it is considered a criminal offense to loiter in a public place with the specific intention of engaging in prostitution. This means that you can be arrested and charged if it can be proven that you had the intent to solicit someone for prostitution, even if the actual sexual act did not take place.

Prostitution is commonly perceived as a criminal activity that has negative impacts on the communities where it takes place. Consequently, the law not only prohibits engaging in prostitution itself but also considers loitering with the intent to commit prostitution as an offense.

Minors under the age of 18 who engage in behavior that would be considered loitering for prostitution if they were adults are not covered under Penal Code 653.22 PC. Instead, if a minor violates the conditions outlined in PC 653.22, they would typically be treated as a defendant in juvenile court.

653.22 PC: (a) It is unlawful for any person to loiter in any public place with the intent to commit prostitution. This intent is evidenced by acting in a manner and under circumstances which openly demonstrate the purpose of inducing, enticing, or soliciting prostitution, or procuring another to commit prostitution.
(b) Among the circumstances that may be considered in determining whether a person loiters with the intent to commit prostitution are that the person:
(1) Repeatedly beckons to, stops, engages in conversations with, or attempts to stop or engage in conversations with passersby, indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(2) Repeatedly stops or attempts to stop motor vehicles by hailing the drivers, waving arms, or making any other bodily gestures, or engages or attempts to engage the drivers or passengers of the motor vehicles in conversation, indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(3) Has been convicted of violating this section, subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 647, or any other offense relating to or involving prostitution, within five years of the arrest under this section.
(4) Circles an area in a motor vehicle and repeatedly beckons to, contacts, or attempts to contact or stop pedestrians or other motorists, indicative of soliciting for prostitution.
(5) Has engaged, within six months prior to the arrest under this section, in any behavior described in this subdivision, with the exception of paragraph (3), or in any other behavior indicative of prostitution activity.
(c) The list of circumstances set forth in subdivision (b) is not exclusive. The circumstances set forth in subdivision (b) should be considered particularly salient if they occur in an area that is known for prostitution activity. Any other relevant circumstances may be considered in determining whether a person has the requisite intent. Moreover, no one circumstance or combination of circumstances is in itself determinative of intent. Intent must be determined based on an evaluation of the particular circumstances of each case.



To secure a conviction for loitering for the purpose of prostitution under California Penal Code Section 653.22, the prosecutor needs to establish all the “elements of the crime” outlined in CALCRIM 1156 Jury Instructions:

  • The individual was lingering without a lawful purpose on a property, intending to commit a crime if the opportunity arises. This behavior is known as loitering.
  • The individual was in a public place, which refers to areas open to the general public. Examples include public parks, streets, alleys, parking lots, restaurants, clubs, bars, driveways, movie theaters, vehicles, and business doorways, among others.
  • The individual possessed the intent to engage in prostitution, which involves participating in sexual activity in exchange for money or other forms of compensation. Sexual activity encompasses sexual intercourse, touching of genitals, buttocks, or female breasts for sexual arousal or gratification.

Please note that establishing the intent to commit prostitution can be subjective and relies on the interpretation of the police officer. However, there are instances where the actions of someone who happens to be in the wrong public place may be misinterpreted by law enforcement.



Here are the examples of behaviors that could be considered loitering for prostitution under Penal Code 653.22 PC:

In a known red-light district, a woman frequently approaches parked cars with male drivers and engages in brief conversations, occasionally leaning into the vehicles. Despite not explicitly soliciting sex, her behavior and choice of location indicate an intention to engage in prostitution-related activities.

A young girl repeatedly wanders near a strip club during late hours, where known instances of prostitution have been reported. She approaches passersby, including male drivers, and engages in prolonged conversations that often involve discussions about sexual services. Her presence and behavior in the area raise concerns of potential involvement in prostitution.

Two women, one of whom has a prior conviction for prostitution, loiter near a hotel known for its involvement in illegal sex trade. They consistently observe passing vehicles and actively seek interactions with male drivers by waving, gesturing, and making suggestive remarks. Their actions, coupled with their location and previous associations, indicate a high likelihood of engaging in prostitution-related activities.

Note: These examples provided above are hypothetical scenarios meant for illustrative purposes. The actual determination of whether a person’s behavior constitutes loitering for prostitution would depend on the specific circumstances and the interpretation of the relevant laws by law enforcement and the courts.


Under California Penal Code Section 653.22, loitering for the purpose of engaging in prostitution is classified as a misdemeanor crime. If convicted, the potential penalties include:

  • Up to six months of incarceration in a county jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000, along with additional penalty assessments.

Please note that for first-time offenders, jail time is typically not imposed. The judge will take various factors into consideration during sentencing, including the individual’s criminal record and their probation or parole status. Consult with a legal professional who can provide personalized advice based on the specifics of your case and advocate for the best possible outcome in terms of penalties and potential alternatives to incarceration.


A conviction for loitering for prostitution in California can have immigration consequences, particularly for non-U.S. citizens. Here are some potential immigration implications:

  • Inadmissibility: A conviction for loitering for prostitution may render a non-U.S. citizen inadmissible to the United States. This means they may be denied entry or re-entry into the country.
  • Deportation: If a non-U.S. citizen is convicted of loitering for prostitution, it could potentially lead to deportation or removal proceedings. This depends on the individual’s immigration status, the severity of the offense, and other factors.
  • Visa Difficulties: Non-U.S. citizens with a conviction for loitering for prostitution may encounter challenges when applying for visas, including temporary visas (such as work visas or tourist visas) or permanent residency (green cards).
  • Adjustment of Status: Non-U.S. citizens who are in the process of adjusting their status to become lawful permanent residents (green card holders) may face complications if they have a conviction for loitering for prostitution. It could potentially affect their eligibility for adjustment of status.
  • Good Moral Character Requirement: Many immigration applications, including naturalization (citizenship) applications, require individuals to demonstrate good moral character. A conviction for loitering for prostitution could be considered a negative factor when evaluating an individual’s moral character.


Loitering for prostitution charges in California can have various employment consequences. Here are some potential implications:

  • Criminal Record: A conviction for loitering for prostitution will result in a criminal record, which can impact employment prospects. Employers often conduct background checks, and having a criminal record, especially for offenses related to prostitution, may raise concerns about trustworthiness, judgment, and suitability for certain positions.
  • Job Applications: When applying for jobs, many employers ask applicants to disclose any criminal convictions. If you have a conviction for loitering for prostitution, you may be required to disclose it on job applications. Failing to do so truthfully can lead to further legal complications.
  • Professional Licensing: Certain professions, such as healthcare, law enforcement, education, or positions that involve working with vulnerable populations, require professional licensing or certification. A conviction for loitering for prostitution may affect your eligibility to obtain or maintain such licenses, impacting your ability to work in those fields.
  • Background Checks: Employers often conduct background checks as part of their hiring process. A conviction for loitering for prostitution may show up on these checks, potentially influencing the employer’s decision and affecting your chances of getting hired.
  • Employment Policies: Some employers have policies or codes of conduct that prohibit or discourage employees from engaging in illegal activities or behaviors that could harm the reputation of the company. A conviction for loitering for prostitution may be seen as a violation of these policies and could lead to disciplinary action or even termination.

Specific employment consequences can vary depending on the nature of the job, the employer’s policies, and applicable laws.


A conviction for a sex crime in California, such as loitering for prostitution, can have severe consequences for your career and personal life. However, there are several legal defenses that can potentially lead to the dismissal of these charges. If you find yourself accused of loitering for the purpose of prostitution, it is crucial to seek the assistance of a skilled defense lawyer. With their expertise, they can explore potential defenses that may lead to the dismissal of the charges. Some common defenses that could be argued, depending on the specific circumstances of your case, include:

  • Lack of intent: A lawyer can argue that you did not have the intent to engage in prostitution and that your presence in a public place had a lawful purpose. Providing evidence or witnesses that support this claim can strengthen your defense.
  • Unreliable identification: If the prosecution’s case relies heavily on witness identification, you can challenge the reliability of the identification. This can be done by highlighting factors such as poor visibility, inconsistencies in descriptions, or potential biases.
  • Unlawful search and seizure: If the evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search or seizure, a defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence. If the court rules in your favor, the prosecution’s case may weaken, potentially leading to dismissal or reduced charges.
  • Entrapment: If law enforcement induced or coerced you into committing the offense, you may have an entrapment defense. To succeed, you must demonstrate that you would not have engaged in the conduct without the involvement of law enforcement
  • Insufficient evidence: The prosecution must prove all the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. An experienced defense attorney can challenge the evidence presented against you, including witness credibility, lack of corroboration, or weak circumstantial evidence.
  • Constitutional violations: If any of your constitutional rights were violated during the arrest or investigation, such as Miranda rights or right to counsel, the defense attorney can argue for the exclusion of evidence or dismissal of the charges.


If you or someone you know is facing charges of Loitering for the Purpose of Committing a Prostitution Offense under Penal Code § 653.22 in California, it is advisable to seek legal representation from an experienced Los Angeles prostitution lawyer. One such attorney is Cyrus Tabibnia, based in Los Angeles.

Cyrus Tabibnia, a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer offers an initial consultation to discuss the details of your case. Acting swiftly and obtaining legal assistance early on can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case.

With a track record of success in handling various prostitution-related cases, Cyrus Tabibnia understands the complexities of the law and can provide effective defense strategies. His experience includes pre-filing intervention, which may help prevent formal charges from being filed.

To review the specifics of your situation and receive personalized legal advice, you can contact Cyrus Tabibnia at 866-713-2159. Taking the step to consult with an experienced defense attorney can greatly contribute to safeguarding your rights and achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

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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