While California law seeks to punish individuals who engage in prostitution, you can face criminal charges even when your attempt to engage in the act of prostitution was not successful. Under California Penal Code 653.22, it is an offense to loiter in public places to commit the crime of prostitution. Simple acts like walking around in public while wearing provocative clothing could be grounds for arrest and prosecution under this statute. The laws on prostitution in California are stringent, and a violation of these laws is prosecuted aggressively.

If you or a loved one faces an arrest and charges for loitering with an intent to commit prostitution, the consequences of a conviction may be harsh. Therefore, you must consult with a criminal attorney as soon as possible since the early intervention in defense could make a significant difference in the outcome. At Riverside Criminal Defense Attorney Law Firm, we offer you the much-needed guidance and legal representation you need to fight your charges in Riverside, CA.

Overview of California Penal Code 653.22

Loitering to engage in prostitution is a severe crime addressed under California Penal Code 653.22. For this reason, you can be arrested and charged with a crime even when you do not solicit prostitution. Whether or not your actions count as loitering for prostitution is a complicated matter which is resolved and determined by the court during a trial. Since people rarely announce their intention to engage in prostitution, the prosecution often relies on the evidence of the defendant’s conduct to establish this fact. When proving your guilt under  PC 653.22, the prosecution team must prove the following elements:

You Were Loitering

For this statute, loitering is the act of lingering or delaying in a particular area to commit a crime when the opportunity arises. Passing through an area is not considered loitering. To secure a conviction, it must be clear that you spent a significant amount of time in a specific location. Additionally, you cannot face a conviction if you have a valid reason for being in the area.

You Were in a Public Place

You can only be found guilty under this statute if you were loitering in a public place. Under this statute, any place which is accessible by other people is considered public, and it includes:

  • Entrance to a building
  • Movie theater
  • Bars or restaurants
  • Public park
  • Driveway
  • Sidewalk 

Loitering with the intent to commit prostitution in private spaces does not attract an arrest or conviction for this offense.

You Acted With an Intention to Engage in Prostitution

You violate California PC 653.22 if the prosecution proves that your intention when loitering was to engage in prostitution. In most cases, an intent to commit prostitution is evident through your behavior before and during the arrest. Prostitution involves any sexual favors in exchange for cash or other payment methods.

Loitering to commit prostitution is a specific intent crime, and this element is the most challenging to prove. While there is no single determining factor of intent, the following acts could be used to establish your intent under the circumstances:

  • An attempt to repeatedly stop vehicles, turn the attention of drivers towards you and make certain body gestures.
  • Beckoning to passersby or attempting to have conversations with them.
  • During around one place for a long time while trying to stop drivers and pedestrians.

In addition to these indicators, having a prior conviction for a prostitution-related offense in the past five years may be a significant factor in your case. With the knowledge of your past crimes, the police officers could take your act of loitering as an attempt to commit prostitution. Understanding the conduct that made the police establish your intent to commit this crime is crucial for your defense. This information can help you come up with explanations for your conduct and possibly avoid a conviction.

Sentencing and Punishment for Loitering to Commit Prostitution in California

Facing charges for loitering to engage in prostitution can be stressful and confusing. PC 653.22 is a misdemeanor whose conviction attracts the following penalties:

  • A minimum jail sentence of up six months.
  • Up to $1,000 in fines.
  • Mandatory sex education. After a conviction under this statute, the court could order that partake in sex education classes. These classes train defendants on sexually transmitted infections and offer therapy to individuals exhibiting sexually deviant behavior.
  • Withdrawal or suspension of your professional license. Some professionals hold members to high standards. A criminal conviction for an offense such as loitering to commit prostitution could cause the defendant to lose their professional license and right to practice. Professionals who could lose their license for such a conviction include dentists, physicians, therapists, nurses, psychologists, and lawyers.
  • Driver’s license suspension. If you were driving around or using a vehicle to entice or solicit for prostitution, a conviction for this offense could attract a driver’s license suspension.

Probation for Loitering to Engage in Prostitution

First offenders who face a conviction under this statute are less likely to spend time in jail. The court may impose informal probation as an alternative to the six-month jail sentence. Informal probation is ordered for a misdemeanor conviction and lasts three years.

While on probation for this offense, the court expects you to pay your fines and stay away from specific public sections. Additionally, you could be ordered to undergo compulsory HIC testing. If you commit another crime or violate the conditions, the court may seek to revoke your probation.

By holding a probation hearing, the court determines whether the allegations regarding the violation are true. Several outcomes could arise from a probation hearing, and the court may order that you continue with your probation, make your probation conditions harsher, or revoke the probation. A probation revocation means that you will serve your jail time which is not convenient.

Legal Defenses Against Penal Code 653.22 charges

Defending against charges of loitering to engage in prostitution is very challenging. This is because the law takes such an offense very seriously, and prosecutors are aggressive when handling violations under this statute. A conviction for loitering with an intent to commit prostitution may land you in jail and affect your personal and professional life. Fortunately, not all arrests will result in a conviction under this statute. With the guidance of a knowledgeable lawyer, you can explore the following defenses:

Lack of Specific Intent

One of the critical elements that need to be clear before convicting you for this crime is that your intention of loitering was motivated by a desire to engage in prostitution. If you can establish a valid reason for being in a particular location, there won’t be the intent necessary to secure a conviction.

Insufficient Evidence

Not all individuals who loiter in public places have an intention to engage in prostitution. However, when police officers find you loitering during their patrol, they could assume the worst ad arrest you. One of the factors that could convince the law enforcement officers of your criminal intent is your dressing. However, when you go to trial, all the elements of a crime must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt which is challenging when the evidence against you is insufficient.

Police Misconduct

Police officers have the authority to arrest and detain you if they suspend that you are involved in criminal activity. However, you have rights that the officers must respect during the arrest and interrogations. Some of the common forms of police misconduct include:

  • Illegal search and seizure. When police officers find you loitering in a public place, they may seek to search you for drugs or weapons. However, they must have probable cause and a search warrant. Any evidence obtained from an illegal search cannot be legally used against you in court.
  • Violation of your privacy during an arrest.
  • Racial profiling.
  • Application of excessive force.
  • Coerced confessions.

Police Entrapment

The issue of entrapment arises when the police inspire you to commit a crime that you would have otherwise not committed. Police officers have the power to threaten you into breaking the law, which makes entrapment a valid defense for this crime. Proving entrapment requires you to meet a high burden of proof. The prosecution can claim that you did not need any motivation to engage in the alleged behavior.

Not in a Public Place

You can only be guilty of loitering to commit prostitution if you lingered around a public place. If you can argue that you were on private property at the time of arrest, you can avoid a conviction under this statute.

Offenses Related to PC 653.22

Several statutes address crimes involving prostitution. The following offense can be brought alongside or instead of PC 653.22:

Prostitution and Solicitation of prostitution

Under California PC 647(b), it is a crime to solicit or engage in prostitution. For this statute, a position is an act of sexual intercourse for money and other forms of compensation. There are three main types of acts prohibited under this statute: engaging in prostitution, soliciting acts of prostitution, and agreeing to engage in restitution.

You engage in prostitution when you:

  • Willfully engage in sexual intercourse.
  • You engage in the act for money or compensation.

Under this statute, you are considered to have solicited prostitution when:

  • You request someone to engage in the act of prostitution.
  • You do so with an intent to participate in the act.

The prosecutor proves that you agreed to participate in prostitution acts by establishing these elements:

  • You agreed to engage in prostitution acts with another person.
  • You did something to further the acts.

When you face charges under this statute, it is essential to understand that the following acts do not suffice as engaging in, soliciting, or agreeing to engage in prostitution:

  • Nodding to a stranger in a secluded area.
  • Standing on the street with indecent clothing.
  • Being present in an area known for prostitution.

Violation of PC 647(b) is a misdemeanor whose conviction attracts the following penalties:

  • A minimum jail sentence of six months.
  • A fine not exceeding $1,000.
  • Misdemeanor probation.

Loitering to Solicit the Purchase of Alcohol

Loitering around a bar or restaurant while asking customers to purchase alcohol could attract an arrest and charges under pc 303. Some of the elements that a prosecutor uses to prove your guilt under this statute include:

  • You were loitering.
  • You loitered in or around a business where alcoholic beverages are sold or consumed.
  • You loitered intending to solicit people to purchase the alcohol.

Loitering to solicit the purchase of alcohol is a misdemeanor. A conviction under this statute is punishable by:

  • Six months in county jail.
  • Fines not exceeding $1,000.

Lewd Conduct in a Public Place

You commit a crime under PC647(a) if you engage in lewd conduct or solicit another person to engage in the act in a public place. The prosecution cannot secure a conviction against you for this crime unless they can prove that these facts are accurate:

  • You touched your own or another person’s buttocks, genitals, or breasts. The prosecutor must prove that you sexually touched another person.
  • You acted with an intent to arouse, gratify or offend someone else.
  • At the time of the crime, you were in a public place. For this crime, a public place could be any place, including a parking lot, apartment hallway, or a movie theater.
  • Someone else who was present felt offended by the behavior. For your conduct to suffice under PC 647(a), there must have been another part who felt offended by your behavior. In most cases where the prosecution cannot prove that there was someone else, you could see your charges reduced or dismissed.
  • You knew or would have known that the other person would be offended.

Engaging in lewd conduct in a public place is treated as a misdemeanor. A conviction, in this case, may result in a six months jail sentence and a fine of up to $1,000. The court could sentence you to probation as an alternative to jail time. Before offering you probation, the court requires you to agree to pay fines, undergo counseling, and take an HIV test. While lewd conduct in a public place does not require sex offender registration, the offense could be charged alongside indecent exposure, which could put your name on the sex offender registry.

Indecent Exposure

California PC 314 prohibits the act of willfully exposing your private parts in the presence of another person and in a public place. If you expose your genitals while loitering to engage in prostitution, you can face charges on PC 314 and PC 653.22. The crime of indecent exposure has these elements:

  1. You deliberately exposed your genitals. For this statue, genitals may be either male or female. It is vital to understand that exposure of breasts does not count as indecent exposure under California law.
  2. You performed the act in front of another person who was offended. You can only be charged with indecent exposure if you expose your genitals in public.
  3. You acted intending to draw public attention. Prosecution under PC 314 also requires proof that you intended to draw attention to your genitals. Simple exposure of genitals in a secluded area does not meet the definition of indecent exposure.
  4. You exposed your genitals to offend another person or satisfy yourself sexually. A sexual gratification intent or attempt to offend someone must be clear when proving your guilt.

A first offense of indecent exposure is a misdemeanor that attracts a one-year jail sentence, a $1,000 fine, and up to ten years of sex of der registration. However, if you enter an inhabited dwelling without permission and expose your genitals, you risk facing felony charges. A felony conviction under PC 314 attracts a minimum prison sentence of sixteen months and a $10,000 fine. Since California law is strict on repeat offenders, a second or subsequent offense for indecent exposure is treated as an aggravated form of the crime.

Supervising or Aiding Prostitution

Aiding or supervising a prostitute is a crime involving helping procure customers for the prostitute. Aiding prostitution differs from pimping in that no evidence is required to prove that you operated a prostitution ring. Any action you take towards helping a prostate commit the act could attract charges under CPC 653.23. This section of California law criminalizes the following acts:

  • Recruiting, supervising, or helping another person commit the crime of prostitution
  • Receiving or collecting money from a person who earned it through prostitution activity

Exhibiting any of the following conduct can cause the police to suspect you of aiding or supervising a prostitute:

  • Loitering in a specific area and beckoning prostitutes.
  • Constant communication with known prostitutes.
  • Appears to receive funds from a person known for involvement in prostitution.
  • Past convictions for aiding prostitution.

Violation of PC 653.23 is a serious offense. A conviction under this statute could land you in county jail for up to one year. Additionally, you may need to pay a $1,000 fine. You could face a prison sentence of up to three years with prior convictions for prostitution or being connected to pimping or pandering. In addition to these legal penalties, aiding prostitution causes a serious social stigma that could impact your life. Facing charges for aiding a prostitute can be challenging. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is vital.

Abduction of a Minor for Prostitution

Kidnapping a minor for prostitution is a serious sex crime charged under PC 267. Since minors cannot legally consent to any sexual act, causing a minor to engage in prostitution could result in charges under this statute. The elements specific to this crime must be clear before a conviction include. For you to be convicted under this statute, the prosecution must show that:

  • You took a minor away from their legal guardian. A minor is a child under eighteen years. The first element that must be clear to prove this crime is that you too a child away from their parent or guardian. For it to suffice as kidnapping, taking a child does not need you to use force or violence against them.
  • You did this without consent. Taking a minor away from a parent or guardian is considered kidnapping f you did not have consent from the adult to take the child.
  • You took the minor for prostitution. When establishing your guilt for this crime, the prosecutor must prove that your intention of taking the child was to lure or force them into prostitution.

The kidnapping of a child for prostitution is a straight felony. A straight felony is a crime that cannot be charged any other way. If you face a conviction under this section, you risk facing a minimum of two years in prison and pay fines not exceeding $2,000. Additionally, you will lose your right to own or use a firearm and face severe immigration consequences. Sometimes, the court could sentence you to probation. With felony probation, you can send part of your sentence out of prison.

Find a Competent Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

California prostitution laws are stringent since the crime causes a stain on the morals of the society where it occurs. Many people believe that you commit a crime by engaging in prostitution. However, the law also allows police officers to arrest any person who dresses or acts in a manner that depicts an intent to engage in prostitution. If you face an arrest under these circumstances, you could be charged with loitering to commit prostitution under CPC 653.22.

Although the crime of loitering to engage in prostitution acts is a serious offense, sometimes the crime arises from faulty assumptions and police error. Therefore, enlisting the services of a skilled criminal lawyer is crucial as you battle charges under this statute. At Riverside Criminal, we have extensive knowledge and experience defending prostitution-related offenses in Riverside, CA. Our skilled attorneys will walk with you through the process of building a solid defense to fight the charges and avoid a conviction. Contact us at 951-946-6366 today to discuss the specifics of your case.