An Overview of Prostitution and Solicitation in San Diego
San Diego Criminal Defense Attorney Benjamin Theule talks about the differences between prostitution and solicitation charges. A conviction for either of these offenses can be extremely embarrassing to friends and family and can cause major headaches trying to get a new job. What's worse is that police seem to be setting up more and more stings every day targeting this activity. Even if you find yourself being charged with prostitution or solicitation, diversion programs do exist which may allow you to limit your exposure.
What's the difference between prostitution and solicitation? The difference between prostitution and solicitation is; prostitution is actually engaging in a sexual act in exchange for money or other compensation (like drugs). Solicitation is agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution.
What's the penalty for prostitution? As with most other misdemeanors in the State of California, the penalty for prostitution is a maximum sentence of six months in the county jail, fines, sometimes probation, etc.
One collateral consequence of prostitution is that it goes onto one's criminal record. A lot of people are ashamed that they got arrested for prostitution or solicitation, and they don't want that to affect their future. It becomes the goal of the criminal defense attorney (myself) to go in there and make sure that that doesn't happen. So when they get into a job interview, they aren't explaining away why they got arrested for prostitution, instead they can focus on their résumé and qualifications.
What happens if the prosecution can prove that somebody committed an act of prostitution? Even if the prosecution can prove that an individual committed an act of prostitution, all is not lost. A lot of times, I can go to the judge, the prosecutor, and say "my client is a working individual, he/she has a career, he's not the typical criminal who is in and out of the criminal courts." I can highlight those aspects about the case, about my clients and get them in a diversion program.
What is involved in a diversion program for prostitution or solicitation? In San Diego County, a typical diversion program for prostitution or solicitation is the requirement that the individual take some HIV/AIDS counseling, some tests, and also to learn about the dangers and issues going on with prostitution in San Diego County so that they don't do it again.
Sometimes if you successfully complete a diversion program by taking the required classes and tests, you can get a case dismissed, reduced to an infraction, or reduced to a lower charge which isn't going to have the same social stigma that a prostitution or solicitation charge might have.
This video provides information related to the following penal codes: penal code 647, penal code 647(b), penal code 266h, and penal code 266i.