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Loitering for Prostitution

Loitering for the Purpose of Engaging in Prostitution – Penal Code 653.22

California Penal Code 653.22 defines the crime of loitering in a public place with intent to commit prostitution. This statute is similar to Penal Code 647(b), solicitation of prostitution, and also a misdemeanor crime.

Typically, the primary issues in this type of sex crime is whether or not somebody was “loitering” in a specific location with intent to commit a prostitution offense. This is normally determined using circumstantial evidence. 

Most people are not going to make an announcement regarding their intent explicitly, so a prosecutor will rely heavily on evidence that their manner and circumstances of the loitering openly demonstrated their primary purpose was to entice or solicit prostitution.

It should be noted that Penal Code 653.22 doesn't s apply to minors under 18 years old whose behavior, if it were by an adult, would be considered unlawful loitering to engage in a prostitution offense.  Minors engaging in this type of unlawful conduct could be found to be a dependent child of the court.

To give readers useful information about the laws on loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution offense, our criminal defense attorneys are providing an outline below.

Defining Penal Code 653.22 – Loitering for Prostitution

Loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution is defined in California Penal Code 653.22 PC as:

  • It's unlawful for someone to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution. The intent is shown by evidence of acting in a manner and under circumstances that openly demonstrate a purpose to induce, entice, or solicit prostitution, or procure someone else to commit prostitution.

PC 653.22 provides examples of behavior that could be considered in order to determine whether a defendant had intent to commit a prostitution offense. For example, repeatedly beckoning to, stopping, engaging in a conversation with someone just walking by them could be used to indicate solicitation for prostitution.

The statute also states it could include repeatedly stopping or attempting to stop cars driving by waiving the driver or making gestures that would clearly show a desire to engage drivers in a conversation over prostitution. Another example includes driving around in a vehicle in a specific area and repeatedly signaling to, contacting, or making an attempt to contact pedestrians or other motorists.

Additionally, if a defendant was convicted of a prostitution offense within five years, it's a factor that could be used by police to determine if someone possessed the required intent to engage in a prostitution offense.

Penal Code 653.22 also states that the listed circumstances showing unlawful intent are not exclusive.  The circumstances that are listed are particularly relevant if they happen in a location that is commonly known for prostitution activity.

It should be noted that police and prosecutors usually engage in a common-sense in order to determine if someone is loitering for prostitution purposes or just loitering around in general.

What Does the Prosecutor Have to Prove?

In order to be convicted of loitering for the purpose of prostitution defined under California Penal Code 653.22, the prosecutor must prove the elements of the crime under CALCRIM 1156 Jury Instructions:

You were loitering, which basically means lingering around without a lawful purpose for being there, but for committing a crime if the opportunity arises.

You were in a public place, which means any area open to the general public. A public places includes a street, sidewalk, alley, shopping mall, public park, restaurant, driveway, a vehicle, and others.

You had intent to commit prostitution, which means engaging in sexual conduct for money or other forms of compensation. Sexual conduct is described as intercourse, touching of buttocks, genitals, or female breast for the purpose of sexual arousal

It's important to note how police know if you had the intent to commit prostitution. Often, law enforcement can misunderstand someone's actions who are just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Punishment for Loitering to Commit Prostitution

If convicted of violating Penal Code 653.22, loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution, you are guilty of a misdemeanor crime. Penalties for a conviction include up to six months in a county jail, and a fine up to $1,000, or both.

It should be noted first-time offenders won't typically face jail time, but the court will weigh all factors in order to determine sentencing. This includes prior criminal record, current status of probation or parole status, and the specific circumstances of the unlawful conduct.

What are the Related California Offenses?

Penal Code 647(a) – Lewd Conduct in Public
Penal Code 647(b) – Solicitation for Prostitution
Penal Code 236.1 – Human Trafficking
Penal Code 266 – Seduction of Minor for Prostitution
Penal Code 267 – Abduction of Minor for Prostitution
Penal Code 2661 – Pandering
Penal Code 266h – Pimping
Penal Code 315 – Keeping a House of Prostitution
Penal Code 309 – Admit a Minor in House of Prostitution
Penal Code 314 – Indecent Exposure
Penal Code 415 – Disturbing the Peace
Penal Code 602 – Trespassing

Fighting Loitering to Commit Prostitution Charges

If you were charged with Penal Code 653.22 loitering for the purpose of prostitution, you should consult with our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers to review the case. We might be able make a successful argument in order to get the charges reduced or dismissed. Some common defenses  include:

Lack of Intent 

We might be able to make a reasonable argument there was a lack of intent to commit a prostitution offense. This defense could be used even in a situation where you were loitering in a public place and remained there for a period of time without an obvious purpose. The prosecutor has the burden to show the loitering was motivated to engage in a prostitution offense.

Police Entrapment

We might be able to make an entrapment argument in order to get the case dismissed. Entrapment by police is frequently relevant in a Penal Code 653.22 prosecution.  Entrapment occurs when police conduct persuades someone to commit a crime they would not normally commit but for the actions of law enforcement.

In other words, you can't be held criminally liable for illegal conduct which was primarily inspired by police officers.

It should be noted that actually proving police entrapment requires you to meet a high burden of proof because the prosecutor can frequently make a reasonable argument you would have engaged in prostitution anyway without any intervention by law enforcement.

If you were arrested for Penal Code 653.22, loitering for the purpose of committing a prostitution offense, call our criminal defense attorneys to examine all the details and options.

Early intervention into your case by our experienced legal team could increase the chances of a successful outcome. We are skilled negotiators and may be able to work out a favorable plea bargain or even get the case dropped before formal charges are filed through pre-filing intervention.

Cron, Israels & Stark is a team of experienced criminal attorneys located at 11755 Wilshire Blvd, 15th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90025. We are also located at 401 Wilshire Blvd #1200, Santa Monica, CA 90401.

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