Prostitution & Solicitation PC 647(b)

Have you been charged with California Penal Code 647(b) Prostitution & Solicitation? Our firm has many years of experience defending our clients who have unfortunately suffered stigmas that come with being charged with these crimes. Our goal as your legal team is not to judge you for incidents you may have experienced, but to help you succeed in a legal system that is often challenging to navigate. Call Gressley & Donaldson today to find out how we can help you with these serious charges today.

What exactly is prostitution and solicitation in the legal sense, how is it defined, and what defenses can be employed by someone who is accused of either of these crimes? In the sections below, our legal team will help you understand the nuances of solicitation and prostitution charges, and how we will be able to build a case for their dismissal should you find yourself facing conviction for either.

Over the years, our law firm has seen countless examples of everyday citizens being accused of crimes they didn’t commit, and unfortunately prostitution and solicitation are often one of them. What may simply be a case of mistaken identity, or a misunderstanding can result in serious fines or jail time. If you need help navigating prostitution laws, contact Gressley & Donaldson for a consultation.

Definition Of Penal Code 647(b) Prostitution and Solicitation

Prostitution and solicitation are two distinct misdemeanor crimes that are listed jointly in California Penal Code 647 (b), which states:

“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.”

While the law itself is fairly detailed, many of our clients may be confused by the language in the statute – what entails engaging or soliciting in an act of prostitution, and what constitutes “agreeing” to engage in an act of prostitution?

Engaging In An Act Of Prostitution

In order to be charged with prostitution, an individual needs to engage (or agree to engage) in “any lewd act” in exchange for money or anything of value. A lewd act in this context means an act that results in sexual arousal or sexual gratification. Here are a few qualifying examples:

  • A person accepts payment in exchange for watching another person touch themselves sexually
  • A person allows another person to touch them sexually in exchange for payment
  • A person touches themselves sexually in exchange for payment
  • A person has sexual intercourse with or performs oral sex on another person in exchange for payment

Note that “payment” in this context can mean money, gifts, drugs, or anything worth value if the act is done explicitly for the item or money offered. It’s also important to know that engaging in an act of prostitution must be done willfully, meaning they can’t be forced to perform the act either through intimidation or by force.

Soliciting An Act Of Prostitution

A solicitor of prostitution is the person in the exchange who is offering payment. In order to be considered a solicitation, this person must be offering something of value with the full intention of engaging in a lewd act with another person in exchange for payment. The important thing to remember here is intent. Let’s say that John buys a stranger a drink at a bar and later in the evening, he takes the stranger back to his place where they have sex. If at the bar, John had said “If I buy you a drink, will you have sex with me?” he may be considered a solicitor of prostitution. But if the two decided to sleep with each other purely because they were sexually attracted to one another, the situation would not be considered illegal.

Agreeing To Engage In Prostitution

Lastly, it’s important to understand that an “act of lewdness” doesn’t need to actually take place in order to be considered a violation of PC 647(b). The law specifically says that even agreeing to engage in prostitution is illegal if the agreement is made willfully. Simply saying, “I will pay you to take your clothes off” isn’t considered solicitation, and the converse is true for prostitution – both parties must be acting willfully and with the full intention of completing the transaction. Evidence of this intention must be present in order to convict either party.

Let’s say that Mike offers Tony $500 for sex and Tony agrees. If no exchange of money happens, and Tony ignores any further communication from Mike, Tony cannot be charged with prostitution because no action took place to further the exchange. Similarly, if Mike simply offers to pay Tony $500 for sex and no further plans are made, no crime of solicitation has been committed. However, if Mike offers Tony $500 for sex and they agree to meet at a hotel and Mike drives to the hotel with $500, a judge may find him guilty of soliciting prostitution whether or not the exchange actually takes place.

What are the penalties for PC 647(b) prostitution?

title decoration line

On its own, the crimes of both solicitation and prostitution are considered misdemeanors, barring any aggravators such as pimping or if the solicitor was soliciting a minor or committing any other serious sex crimes. If an individual is convicted of either prostitution or solicitation, they may face fines, jail time, and mandatory education classes.

  • First time offense: If convicted of prostitution or solicitation and it is a first time offense, the defendant may face a $1000 fine, a six-month county jail sentence, or a combination of the two.
  • Second time offense: If convicted of prostitution or solicitation and it is a second time offense, the defendant may face a $1000 fine, a minimum 45-day county jail sentence up to a 180-day county jail sentence, or a combination of the two.
  • Third time offense: If convicted of prostitution or solicitation and it is a third time offense, the defendant may face a $1000 fine, a minimum 90-day county jail sentence up to a 180-day county jail sentence, or a combination of the two.

If a car was used to commit either prostitution or solicitation, the court may issue a 30-day suspension of license (similar to if you were charged with a DUI). If the court decides to issue mandatory education classes, it will typically be delivered in eight, one-hour classes through the California Board of Health, and cover topics such as HIV/AIDS prevention and sexual health topics.

Many of our clients worry that if they’ve been charged with prostitution or solicitation, it means they will need to register as a sex offender – these clients can relax knowing that this requirement is almost never asked of those who are simply charged with PC 647(b) and no other sex crimes.

How can I fight PC 647(b) prostitution or solicitation charges?

There is a surprisingly fine line between many common situations in the dating world and what California law considers prostitution or solicitation. We’ve seen many scenarios where a client was charged with solicitation or prostitution simply because of a simple miscommunication. In other situations, we’ve seen law enforcement abuse their power through entrapment tactics in order to get a solicitation or prostitution conviction. In the sections below, we’ve outlined a few common defense strategies that our firm may use to get your charges dropped should you find yourself arrested for allegedly violating California Penal Code 647.

Insufficient evidence

Proving that an individual provided sex in exchange for money is often easier said than done. As we’ve outlined above, the prosecution must prove that the exchange was willfully agreed upon with both parties taking action to complete the exchange. This means the court will not only need to see evidence such as text messages or videos that show an agreement between the two parties, but they’ll also need to see evidence that the exchange was in the motions of taking place.

Evidence collected by the prosecution might also prove inadmissible if they were collected illegally. For example, California is what’s called a two-party consent state, which means that when citizens have a reasonable expectation of privacy, they are not allowed to be recorded, including audio and video. If a police officer records someone in their home or in a public restroom in an attempt to catch them committing the crimes of prostitution or solicitation, the recording would be inadmissible in court.


Our firm has seen attempts by police officers posing undercover in an attempt to catch the solicitation of prostitution in the act. While not all undercover police operations can be considered entrapment, many cross the line into what can be considered an illegal police strategy. In order to be considered entrapment, the undercover police officer needs to have convinced someone to do something illegal when they wouldn’t have otherwise done so. Let’s say that a police officer poses as a sex worker and attempts to convince someone to solicit them for prostitution. Matthew offers to pay the police officer money in exchange for sex. Unfortunately in Matthew’s case, he would be arrested, and likely convicted of solicitation.

However, let’s say that the police officer posing as a sex worker offered their services several times and Matthew politely refused each time. As a last resort, the police officer takes a sexually suggestive picture with Matthew and tells him that if he doesn’t pay for her services, she will post the picture online for his friends and relatives to see. Terrified of suffering the repercussions, Matthew pays the officer the money she requests. In this situation, the police officer entrapped Matthew because he demonstrated that he wouldn’t have solicited the police officer if he hadn’t been threatened with being exposed online.

Falsely accused

Unfortunately in some cases, law enforcement may confuse one person with another, but that doesn’t mean that victims of a mistaken identity should accept the charges anyway. Sex work is often conducted in high-traffic areas or arranged over the internet, and being mistaken for someone else isn’t out of the question. If you’ve been accused of any crime that you didn’t commit, it is important that you consult a criminal defense attorney immediately, and do not offer police any information about the incident.

No willfulness

Lastly, if no willfulness is present in the exchange, the incident cannot be considered prostitution or solicitation under California law. This means that you are not in violation of PC 647 if:

  • You were forced to commit sexual acts against your will
  • You agreed to have or pay for sex in exchange for money as a joke
  • You didn’t know the person you were hooking up with was a sex worker
  • You were pressured to have sex or pay for sex under duress

It’s also important to remember that simply agreeing to sex for money isn’t enough to be considered prostitution or solicitation. The prosecution has to actually show that you fully intend to complete the transaction through verifiable evidence.

Judicial Diversion for California Penal Code section 647(b) Prostitution or Solicitation Charges

In the event that law enforcement gathers strong evidence in support of a prostitution or solicitation charge, our firm may recommend that you pursue judicial diversion under PC 1001.95. Judicial diversion allows you to complete certain requirements prior to any conviction for prostitution or solicitation, and, if successfully completed. results in a total dismissal of the charges without any conviction. For a solicitation charge under California Penal Code Section 647(b), typical judicial diversion requirements can include community service hours, a human trafficking course, and a requirement to remain crime free for a period of 6-12 months. Judicial diversion is particularly appropriate if you were arrested as part of a solicitation sting operation, and have never faced criminal charges before.

Are there related offenses?

While both prostitution and solicitation are serious misdemeanor crimes that result in lifelong consequences, they pale in comparison with many other much more serious crimes that are often associated with PC 647. Here are a few less common but related charges that our firm has successfully defended our clients against:

  • Human Trafficking (PC 236.1): Human trafficking, as defined by Penal Code 236.1 in California, involves the illegal recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, or receipt of individuals through force, coercion, or deception for the purpose of forced labor or commercial sexual exploitation.
  • Pimping (PC 266h): Pimping, as per Penal Code 266h, occurs when an individual procures or obtains another person for the purpose of engaging in prostitution, receiving a share of the earnings from such activities. This offense involves facilitating and profiting from the acts of prostitution.
  • Pandering (PC 266i): Pandering, outlined in Penal Code 266i, involves encouraging, inducing, or persuading another person to become a prostitute. This offense encompasses actions that contribute to the recruitment or engagement of individuals in prostitution.
  • Loitering with the Intent to Commit Prostitution (PC 653.22): Note that PC 653.22 has been repealed. Previously, it criminalized loitering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution. This law aimed to address behavior suggestive of imminent engagement in prostitution.
  • Supervising or Aiding a Prostitute (PC 653.23): Penal Code 653.23 pertains to the act of supervising or aiding a prostitute. This includes actions such as directing or assisting a person engaged in prostitution, making one liable for supporting or facilitating such activities.
  • Indecent Exposure (PC 314): Indecent exposure, under Penal Code 314, involves willfully exposing one’s genitals in a public place or any location where others are present with the intent to offend or gratify sexual desires, leading to potential criminal charges.
  • Lewd Conduct (PC 647(a): Lewd conduct, as per Penal Code 647(a), encompasses engaging in lewd or dissolute conduct in a public place or soliciting someone else to do so. This offense targets behavior that is offensive, sexually explicit, or likely to disturb the public peace.

If you’ve been charged with prostitution, solicitation, or any number of related crimes listed above, we can help you get the representation you deserve. These crimes unfortunately have a long-term stigma attached to them and having one listed on your criminal record can often lead to lifelong consequences. Contact Gressley & Donaldson today for a consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions

title decoration line

How does prostitution relate to solicitation?

Prostitution and solicitation are closely related as solicitation refers to the act of enticing, inducing, or inviting another person to engage in prostitution. Prostitution involves the exchange of sexual acts for money or other forms of compensation, while solicitation focuses on the act of seeking or procuring these services.

What are the three elements of prostitution?

The three elements typically associated with prostitution offenses are an agreement, an act, and an exchange of consideration. These involve an agreement between parties to engage in sexual acts, the actual commission of those acts, and the exchange of something of value, usually money.

What is the statute of limitations of PC 647(b)?

The statute of limitations for Penal Code 647(b) in California is generally one year. This means that legal proceedings for violations of PC 647(b) must commence within one year of the alleged offense. However, exceptions may apply based on specific circumstances – if you leave the state in order to avoid charges, you can be charged as long as a warrant exists for your arrest.

Is prostitution the same as solicitation?

While prostitution involves the actual exchange of sexual services for compensation, solicitation is the act of seeking or enticing someone to engage in prostitution. In legal terms, they are distinct but often interconnected offenses. Prostitution pertains to the actual engagement in sexual acts for payment, while solicitation focuses on the act of inviting or procuring such services.

Qualified California Prostitution and Solicitation Lawyers Are Available

Do you still have questions concerning California Penal Code 647(b)? Are you anxious about the ramifications of such a charge or the penalties you might incur if convicted of prostitution or solicitation? Why not talk to an experienced criminal defense lawyer with notable success in defending clients in solicitation and prostitution cases? Our law firm not only has answers to the many questions you may have while navigating these charges, but we also have exceptional strategies for mitigating them in court. Call Gressley & Donaldson today for a consultation.

contact us to start building your defense

We understand that being accused of a crime is one of the most challenging times of your life. Rely on us to advocate for your rights and to give you the defense you deserve.