Donte T Wyatt -
How can your criminal attorney help protect you when you're charged with prostitution?
Prostitution is a criminal charge that is unique because it is one of the few criminal charges where the
perpetrator is often viewed as a victim by the court system and the society in general. Prostitution is the
exchange of sexual activity or contact for something of value. Therefore although most people associated
prostitution with sex for money it is technically not limit to the exchange of sex for money.
To prove that a person is guilty of the crime of prostitution, the People must
prove that the defendant willfully engaged in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with someone else in exchange for
money or other compensation.
A lewd act means touching the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some
part of the other person’s body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratiﬁcation of either person.
Therefore any lewd act in exchange for compensation would technically be an act of prostitution.
This crime varies from people walking on the street soliciting customers to people using the internet to advertise
and private houses of prostitution. Although prostitution is performed in many different arenas, each person
accused of engaging in an act of prostitution is charged pursuant to Penal Code section 647(b). This section is
used to charge the person that is alleged to be the prostitute and the person that is alleged to be the customer or
Prostitution cases are often investigated with the use of undercover
officers posing as customers (“Johns”) or as prostitutes. The undercover officer will generally try to attempt to
get the suspected john or prostitute to enter into a verbal agreement to exchange a sex act for money.
In San Diego County specifically in the city of San Diego there are two classes that people may be required to take
if they are charged with violating Penal Code section 647(b). Customers are generally required and or encouraged to
participate in the Prostitution Impact Panel. This panel presentation includes presenters such as people from the
community, former sex addicts and “Johns”, former prostitutes, police officers, department of health and mental
Prostitutes are often Required to participate in the SOS (Survivor of the Street) which is essentially a peer
support group for people who have worked in the sex industries.
Pimping and Pandering
Pimping and Pandering is the recruitment, management of prostitutes and the benefiting from the work of
prostitutes. The court and society often refer to the “Pimp” as the exploiter of the prostitute thereby labeling
the prostitute a victim.
Pimping is simply knowingly receiving money from a prostitute to support yourself in whole or in part or in
exchange for securing clients for the prostitute. Alternatively, pandering is recruiting an individual to become a
Unlike prostitution cases pimping and pandering cases are more serious. Prostitution as charged pursuant to Penal
Code section 647(b), can never be elevated to a felony no matter how many convictions the prostitute suffers.
Conversely, pimping and pandering is a felony that can not be reduced to a misdemeanor and requires mandatory
Pimping and Pandering cases are more difficult to investigate primarily due to the fact that a prostitute can exist
without a pimp therefore proving the pimp/prostitute relationship can be difficult. Investigators often try to get
the prostitute to testify against the pimp to prove that a person is guilty of pimping and pandering. Investigators
may also try to establish the relationship based on telephone, internet and bank records.
When a person is charged with prostitution or pimping and pandering they need an experienced attorney that
understands the way that these crimes are investigated and prosecuted. An experienced criminal defense attorney can
determine if there are valid defenses such as entrapment, or a complete failure by the investigators to prove all
of the elements of the offense. In addition, in the case of pimping and pandering cases the criminal defense
attorney needs to be experienced dealing with confidential informants and long term investigations and sting