Written by attorney Mark Lawrence Deniz

Prostitution 101

As a former prosecutor I really enjoyed these cases. I enjoyed them for a number of reasons. This includes:

  • Usually two witness max jury trials, with the main witness usually an exprienced detective.

  • Realtively quick trial (2-3 days max).

  • Content kept jurors interested.

I did recognize there are usually holes in these cases that I had to fill up. So, now that I am defense I intend to ride a bull dozer through hose holes. This topic will cover San Diego and California law. Most prostitution laws are very similar. The crime requires:

-An Agreement for sex for consideration

-An act in furtherance.

San Diego has one of the largest concentrations of escort and providers in the United States. It is a service that has high demand when considering the population of the city, tourism, military presence, and the overall demand for such services. San Diego also has a large number of massage & wellness parlors that are intended to help supply the demand. The various law enforcement agencies of San Diego, usually through their “Vice" divisions, carry out various stings. In this modern world the term “escort" and “services" can mean a number of things. It can range from a private dancer to simple companionship. Massage & wellness has evolved over the years to include a variety of practices.

Law Enforcement takes all these types of services and lumps them into one….. Prostitution.

The most common prostitution related offenses charged San Diego Agreeing to Engage in an Act of Prostitution:

Penal Code section 647(b) Agreeing to a sexual act in exchange for money or something of value. The prosecution must prove that there was an agreement to a sexual act, that the defendant agreed to engage in that act, and that the defendant "did something to further the act of prostitution." This means that an agreement to exchange sex for money is not enough to prove the charge, the prosecutor must prove that there was an additional act beyond the agreement that was in furtherance of committing an act of prostitution.

Escorting Without A Permit. If the police try to set you up for a prostitution charge but can’t do it, they may charge you with "escorting without a permit" which is a violation of a San Diego Municipal Code. They may also charge this along with a prostitution charge. Escorting without a permit is a misdemeanor that can carry up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.


The SDPD Vice unit’s latest tactic is to troll internet classifieds looking for escorts, and yes, law enforcement have figured out to look in the "Theraputic Services" section of Craigslist now that the "Adult Services" section is gone. Often these escorts, massage therapists, or dancers are from out of town and advertise that they are in town for the weekend. The police will lure an escort, massage therapist or dancer to a hotel, and then — no matter what happens, even if no illegal activity occurs - the person is arrested and soon finds herself in a room with dozens of others who fell into the same trap.

These cases are so fact specific you have to know what evidence is present before you can really see its worth.

It is an act that will continually be a issue as to its legaity. As the various jurisidictions deal with the issue the persons dealing with the crimes should do all they could to ensure they do not get labeled with this charge.

Feel free to contact me if you have questions regarding this issue.

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