In California under PC 647 (a) & (b) both the prostitute and the "John" are charged under the same code section, PC 647 (b), Solicitation of Prostitution. The California Penal Code defines "Solicitation of Prostitution" as follows:
Anyone who agrees to participate in a sexual (Lewd) act in exchange for either receiving or delivering something of value to another is guilty of PC 647(b). Further simplified, both the prostitute and the john can be charge with the exact same crime. Historically, until 1986 agreeing to participate in an act of prostitution was quite legal. However, the actual physical participation in sexual acts as defined under PC 647(b), solicitation of prostitution continued to be illegal.
In 1986 California amended the language under PC 647 (b) in an effort to overcome a commonly successful defense strategy of claiming entrapment. Under the re-written law, in order to convict either the john or the prostitute, the prosecution must prove that the defendant had actually completed and act, which caused the furtherance of the mere agreement to engage in an act of prostitution.
The most common method of enforcement used by police today is through the "Sting Operation". The operation commonly begins by sending cops posed as "Johns" into a known area for prostitution. The undercover Johns will convince the prostitute to accompany him to a location where the sex act will be performed. Once the prostitute takes any action in the furtherance of the act, he or she will be arrested and removed from the location. Once all the prostitutes have been removed, the police will send in female officers posed as prostitutes to work the street. As prospective clients (John's) approach the decoys, and an agreement for an act of prostitution has been agreed upon, the john will be led off the street by the decoy and be arrested. The decoy will then return to the street to catch her next john.
With the advancement to technology and computerized social media, law enforcement has been forced to derive additional methods to arrest individuals for solicitation of prostitution. This has been done through law enforcement placing adds on social media sites such as Craigslist. Here, negotiations, pricing and even specific acts may be determined in advance of ever meeting. A location will be set, usually a hotel or motel room that has been advance equipped with surveillance video equipment. When the "John" arrives he may be asked by the decoy to begin removing his close which constitutes a furtherance of the act of prostitution at which time, several police officer will enter the room and place the john under arrest. This form of sting will commonly have a new "John" arriving every hour.
Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney David A. Welch knows the best strategies for defending against allegations claiming solicitation of prostitution. Among many others, the defenses may include that there was no furtherance of the act of prostitution or that it was not reasonable for the defendant to have known that the person he approached was a prostitute.
If convicted of soliciting prostitution, the judge can incarcerate the defendant for up to six months and fine him up to one thousand dollars. Second offence convictions can expose an individual to a "minimum" sentence of forty-five days in jail and third time offenders a "minimum" ofa ninety days in jail. Additionally, the court may suspend or restrict driving privileges. In very rare instances, the judge has the authority to require the defendant to enroll as a sex offender under Penal Code Section 290.