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California Loitering For Prostitution Attorney – Penal Code 653.22 PC

In effect as of July 2022, PC 653.22 is repealed. It is no longer illegal to loiter with intent to commit prostitution. As per PC 653.28, individuals with prior convictions for this offense may petition the court for a dismissal and record sealing.

The information that follows is obsolete. Prostitution is still illegal.

How To Beat A Loitering For Prostitution Charge

Loitering for prostitution is illegal in California. If you are facing charges for loitering for prostitution, consider contacting My Rights Law. A skilled sex crimes lawyer who understands criminal law can advocate for you and protect your rights. Contact My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or by filling out our secure web form for a free, confidential consultation

What Is Loitering For Prostitution?

California Penal Code Section 653.22 prohibits loitering to engage in prostitution. In California, loitering is lingering in a public place without a lawful purpose[1]. Loitering for prostitution requires a person to remain in a public place and display intent to commit prostitution.

How Does The California Judicial Process Determine Intent?

For a person to commit loitering for prostitution, the person must have: 1) loitered, or lingered, in a public place, and 2) had intended to engage in prostitution[2]. Intent relates to an individual’s mens rea or mental state. Sometimes, determining purpose can be difficult, and generally, criminal law does not seek to punish guilty thoughts alone. For the crime of loitering for prostitution, circumstances may demonstrate intent. Indeed, California Penal Code 653.22-b provides a non-exhaustive list of circumstances that may reveal intent to commit prostitution. However, the judicial processes must establish intent on a case-by-case basis given the circumstances of each case. Any act alone may not be enough to establish the required intent, depending on the circumstances of the case. Still, California law does provide examples of circumstances that could suggest an intent to commit prosecution.

What Circumstances Might Show Intent To Commit Prostitution?

California Penal Code 653.22-b gives a non-exclusive list of events that could reveal intent to commit prostitution. If an individual demonstrates one or a combination of these behaviors, the individual may have engaged in loitering for prostitution.

  • If an individual repeatedly gestures to, stops, or talks to passersby in a way that appears to solicit prostitution, or if an individual attempts to do these things, circumstances may indicate loitering for prostitution.
  • Flagging down cars and attempting to get the attention of vehicle passengers may constitute loitering for prostitution. Actions indicative of loitering for prostitution include waving arms and making gestures at vehicles.
  • If an individual has violated a law prohibiting prostitution in the past five years, this may suggest that the person has loitered for prostitution.
  • If an individual in a motor vehicle circles an area and repeatedly beckons, calls to, or contacts pedestrians or other drivers and passengers in a way that appears to solicit prostitution, circumstances may indicate loitering for prostitution.
  • Prior attempts to solicit prostitution in the past six months may suggest that an individual is loitering for prostitution.

How Does Location Affect Loitering For Prostitution Charges?

California Penal Code 653.22 states that the location of the offense may be important. Loitering in locations known for prostitution may indicate intent to engage in prostitution. If you are found lingering on a particular street with a reputation for prostitution, you could face prostitution charges.

Suppose an individual circles an area known for prostitution, beckoning to people. The individual does not have a lawful reason to be in the area. In that case, the individual may be arrested for loitering for prostitution.

What Is The Difference Between Loitering For Prostitution And California Penal Code 647-b?

Loitering for prostitution is a distinct crime in California, which California Penal Code 653.22 outlines. Loitering for prostitution is separate from California Penal Code 647-b, which describes soliciting, engaging, and agreeing to prostitution[3]. Unlike under 647-b, loitering for prostitution does not require an individual to solicit, engage in, or agree to prostitution. Instead, loitering for prostitution refers to spending time in a public place with an apparent purpose of committing prostitution. A solicitation may be involved, but all that is needed is intent to solicit prostitution.

How Serious Is Loitering For Prostitution In California?

In California, loitering for prostitution is a misdemeanor offense. Generally, misdemeanors are less serious than felonies. Although misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, misdemeanors still have severe consequences. Indeed, misdemeanors carry jail time and fines and remain on your permanent record unless you have your record expunged. People convicted of misdemeanors do not face time in prison. However, they may face up to one year of jail time.

What Is The Penalty For Loitering For Prostitution In California?

With a loitering for prostitution offense, you are facing six months in county jail, a $1,000 fine, and court fees. You could also get misdemeanor probation, and the sentencing judge may impose conditions on your probation. The conditions California judges impose on misdemeanor probation might include paying fines, community service, and attending therapy. If you violate probation, the judge could give you a warning, change the terms of the probation, or sentence you to time in jail. Additionally, the offense will appear on your permanent record if you are convicted. Thus, loitering for prostitution comes with severe penalties in California. If you have been charged with loitering for prostitution, you may benefit from the help of a criminal defense attorney, as they can undermine the case that the prosecuting attorney brings against you.

Can Children Under 18 Be Convicted Of Loitering For Prostitution?

California Penal Code 653.22 has a specific provision for children under 18. Children under 18 cannot be convicted of loitering for prostitution. Instead, California law acknowledges that minors who engage in loitering for prostitution are often victims of human trafficking. The law provides that commercially exploited children may be taken into custody without a warrant, per the Welfare and Institutions Code 305-a. A peace officer may take temporary custody of the minor without a warrant to protect the minor’s safety.

Further, under the Welfare and Institutions Code 300-b(2), a sexually trafficked child, or a child who receives money, food, or shelter in exchange for sexual acts, may be determined to be a dependent of the court[4]. When a child is adjudged a dependent of the court, the court determines that the child is in danger and that the child’s guardians should not or cannot be responsible for the child. Instead, the court takes responsibility for the child and decides what happens to the child.

What Defenses To Loitering For Prostitution Could An Attorney Assert?

If you are facing loitering for prostitution charges, a criminal defense attorney from My Rights Law can advocate for you. Remember that the prosecutor has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you committed the offense for you to be found guilty. Your attorney could assert that you were in the wrong place at the wrong time. For instance, you may have been driving back and forth on the street known for prostitution not because you were looking for prostitution opportunities but because you were lost in an unfamiliar place and looking for help.

An additional defense to loitering for prostitution charges is entrapment. Sometimes, police officers use strategies to try to catch prostitutes. If a police officer used an illegal undercover operation to arrest you for loitering for prostitution, your attorney might present the entrapment defense.

California Loitering For Prostitution Lawyer

My Rights Law could help you if a prosecutor has charged you with loitering for prostitution. The skilled criminal defense attorneys at My Rights Law understand California Law and how to assert the best defenses for each client’s situation. Reach out to My Rights Law at (888) 702-8882 or through our secure web form for a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Other sex crimes we defend include: Voyeurism

FOOTNOTES
[1] California Penal Code 653.22
[2] Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (CALCRIM) 2021
[3] California Penal Code 647-b
[4] Welfare and Institutions Code 300-b(2)

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