It is an offense under Penal Code 653.22 to loiter in public with the intent to commit prostitution. This law is similar to solicitation of prostitution Penal Code 647b. Generally, in this sex offense, the primary element is whether you were loitering in a particular place with a motive to commit prostitution. Circumstantial evidence is often used in determining whether you are guilty under PEN 653.22. You could face fines and even risk a jail term if you are found guilty of this crime. This statute, however, does not apply to minors under 18 years old. If you face charges for violating Penal Code 653.22, the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm can help you to fight your charges.

The Violation Of PC 653.22

If the prosecutor accuses you of violating Penal Code 653.22, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You were loitering,
  • You were loitering in a public place,
  • When you were loitering, your motive (intent) was to engage in or commit prostitution.

The Meaning Of Loitering

Under the law, loitering involves delaying or lingering in an area without a legal purpose. It also means delaying or lingering in a place to commit an offense if you get an opportunity. A mere passing in an area does not amount to loitering. You can only be considered loitering in an area if you stay there for a significant time.

The prosecutor would not charge you with loitering with a motive to commit prostitution in case you had a different agenda for being in an area. For example, the prosecutor cannot convict you of loitering to commit prostitution if you were waiting for your spouse outside a bar to share a drink. Normally, it is usually hard to convince the law enforcers or the prosecution you were in a particular area for a different reason.

Locations That Amount To Public Places

The prosecutor can only charge under PEN 653.22 if you linger or loiter in a public place. The law does not allow law enforcers to arrest people for allegations of violating PC 653.22 if they are not in a public place. A public area is defined under the law as any place which is open to the public, including:

  • Parking lot.
  • Park.
  • Driveway.
  • Alley.
  • Plaza.

Other places like strip clubs, bars, restaurants, movie theaters, and other buildings also amount to public areas, provided they are open to the public. Moving and parked vehicles are also considered public areas. The entrance to public facilities is also a public area, including the grounds around these buildings. For example, a sidewalk and the driveway to a bar or hotel are public places. The prosecutor could charge you under Penal Code 653.22 if you were driving around these areas in your vehicle with a motive to commit prostitution. However, you cannot face charges under Penal Code 653.22 if you are in a private residence or any other place not open to the public.

Intention To Commit Prostitution

If the prosecutor accuses you of loitering to commit prostitution, Penal Code 653.22 requires that he/she provide convincing evidence that you intended to commit prostitution. If the prosecutor fails to prove you had this intent, the court cannot charge you under this statute. The crime of prostitution is defined under the law as engaging in sexual behavior or activity for money or another form of payment. Prostitution does not include sexual conduct, a stage act, part of a play, or any other act open to the public. For example, dancing in a strip club does not amount to loitering to commit prostitution.

It is hard to prove someone's intention to commit prostitution. It is tricky for the prosecutor, law enforcers, jury, or judge to know you intend to engage in prostitution. Often, law enforcers misinterpret people's actions.

The law enforcers could claim that you were loitering to commit prostitution and were only at the wrong place when the officers arrived. In this case, a skilled criminal defense attorney can help you identify weaknesses in the prosecutor's evidence. For example, your attorney could claim that you did not plan to engage in prostitution, even if you were in a specific place at a particular time.

Conduct Or Behavior That Could Indicate Intent

You can behave in a manner that shows your intent to engage in prostitution. Some of the behaviors that could portray your intention to commit prostitution include:

  • Driving around a particular area in a car, repeatedly trying to beckon or contact passersby, pedestrians, or other motorists in a manner that indicates your intention to commit prostitution.
  • Trying to stop or stop vehicles repeatedly by hailing, waving, or gesturing in a manner likely to suggest your intention to commit prostitution. If you signal other motorists in a way that indicates you are soliciting or requesting prostitution, then the prosecutor could charge you under Penal Code 653.22.
  • Repeatedly beckoning, stopping, conversing, or trying to engage in a conversation with pedestrians in a way that indicates that you are planning or soliciting prostitution.
  • Engaging in any of the above behaviors, yet you have a prior conviction for similar conduct within the last six months.
  • You have a prior conviction for loitering to commit prostitution PC 653.22, engaging in lewd conduct in public, or soliciting prostitution.

No Determinative Or Exclusive Behavior

Often, the prosecutor could charge you under Penal Code 653.22 even if you do not engage in any of the above behaviors. The factors or the conducts highlighted above are not exclusive or determinative. The court could also consider other circumstances to ascertain your intent to commit prostitution. For example, the court can assess whether you solicited or committed prostitution in the past, even if you engaged in it six months before your arrest. Other behaviors that could show that you intended to commit prostitution are:

  • Loitering in public with condoms.
  • Walking together with someone who has a record of prostitution behaviors.
  • Giving misleading information, including your age and name to the law enforcers after an arrest.

The law enforcers, judges, prosecutors, and juries have extensive powers to use their discretion while arresting and convicting you for violating Penal Code 653.22. Because of the powers bestowed upon law enforcement, they are able to unfairly target specific individuals. However, the prosecutor cannot charge you just because you engaged in conduct that portrayed your intent to commit prostitution. The judge or court will consider your charge's unique factors before deciding that you truly intended to engage in prostitution.

Punishment For Penal Code 653.22 Charges

Most prosecutors prosecute a violation of Penal Code 653.22 as a misdemeanor. The penalties you could face under this statute include the following:

  • A jail term that does not exceed six months in county jail.
  • A fine that does not exceed $1000.

However, the judge uses their discretion to determine the exact sentence for your offense. You could be banned from using public transportation for some time if you are charged with loitering to commit prostitution. The transit authority must give you notice before enforcing the ban on using public transport.

How To Fight Penal Code Section 653.22 Charges

Any sex offense charge can have long-term consequences on your life, career, and future. Luckily, several defenses are available for you or your attorney to contest your charges. They include:

Plea Bargain

The dismissal of your charges is the best outcome you could have in your criminal case. However, sometimes it is possible, depending on the strength of the prosecutor’s case and your criminal history. If your attorney fails to have your case dismissed, they can bargain to reduce your charges to a charge that attracts a lesser sentence or less stigma. For example, your charge could be reduced to disturbing the peace under Penal Code 415 or trespass under Penal Code 602. In this case, your penalties could amount to work release, probation without a jail sentence, or house arrest.

Statute Of Limitations

The statute of limitations is when the prosecutor must file criminal charges against you. Typically, the statute of limitations for most sex crimes is one year from the date the police arrest you. The court will not listen to your criminal case if the prosecutor fails to file charges within this period.

Police Misconduct And Miranda Violations

Usually, law enforcement officials require a search warrant supported by probable cause before searching your motor vehicle in a Penal Code 653.22 lawsuit. This is true if the police believe you were using your vehicle during the violation of Penal Code 653.22. In addition, according to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, law enforcers must inform you about your right to remain silent before interrogating you.

The officers could be breaking your right to privacy if they search or seize evidence without a warrant. Consequently, the court could reject any evidence collected during the unlawful seizure or search. This could also apply if you make an incriminating statement to the police without waiving your right to remain silent or your right to have an attorney present during interrogations.

Other law enforcers' misbehavior, which could lead to Penal Code 653.22 defense, includes:

  • Failure to present exculpatory discovery.
  • Use of coercive strategies to get confessions.
  • False reporting by law enforcers.
  • Law enforcers apply excessive force.
  • Police officer’s racial profiling.

Mistake Of Fact

A mistake of fact occurs when you mistakenly think a fact is true while being misleading, leading to an incomplete crime. You could, for example, use the mistake of fact defense if you loitered with the intent to engage in what appeared to be prostitution but with the intent to engage in what was not prostitution. This could occur if you loitered around a hotel, intending to enter, and watching individuals engaging in prostitution. Your presence at the time of the crime does not amount to the crime.

Jury Nullification

This is the process by which the jury votes for an innocent verdict. This could happen even if the judge finds you guilty of violating Penal Code 653.22. This also occurs when the judge has a moral, ethical, or personal objection to finding you guilty. The judge has the power to nullify any verdict in the case. This is common in situations such as loitering to commit prostitution.

Technically, you cannot use jury nullification as a legal defense to contest Penal Code 653.22 charges. However, this defense often occurs because most judges believe adult prostitution should not be punished.

Entrapment By Law Enforcers

Entrapment occurs when law enforcement officers induce you and cause you to commit an offense you would not have committed otherwise. For example, you could challenge the charges of loitering to engage in prostitution if you believe the law enforcers entrapped you. Generally, entrapments involve law enforcers who operate undercover.

You can use entrapment as a defense to fight your 653.22 charges if you believe that the law enforcers behave overbearingly during your arrest. Entrapment can also be a valid defense in cases where law enforcers pose as customers, attempt to woo women, and arrest them later for loitering to commit prostitution. You should consult a skilled criminal defense attorney who understands everything regarding entrapment and entrapment defense. A competent attorney could fight to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

No Substantial Evidence

The prosecutor cannot charge you under Penal Code 653.22 if he/she has insufficient evidence that you intend to commit prostitution. Several factors are available that can show that you intend to commit prostitution. The facts and circumstances of your charges usually play a significant role before the prosecutor charges you with loitering to engage in prostitution. Prosecution must provide substantial evidence to show your intention. For example, you could be walking innocently, only for the law enforcers to emerge with allegations that you were loitering with the intent to commit prostitution.

It is common for law enforcers to arrest you innocently and accuse you of violating 653.22. For example, you could have been talking to individuals of the opposite gender or making eye contact with them, only for the police to emerge with allegations that you are loitering to commit prostitution. Unfortunately, innocent arrests are usually common in prostitution-prone areas.

The judge is likely to believe the law enforcers more than you, leading to your prosecution even if you are innocent. In this case, you need to seek the services of an aggressive criminal defense attorney because the law gives much discretion to the prosecutors and the law enforcers. Your attorney could assist you in gathering substantial evidence to create a strong defense. An attorney will present persuasive testimony that will guarantee you an acquittal.

Immunity Of Loiters Who Report Serious Offenses

If you report serious crimes to the police, you could be immune from being prosecuted for loitering. Some of the severe crimes could include:

  • Extortion — Penal Code 518.
  • Domestic violence inflicting a corporal injury — Penal Code 275.5.
  • Stalking — Penal Code 646.9.
  • Sexual battery — Penal Code 243.4.
  • Human trafficking — Penal Code 236.1.
  • Assault by means like to produce significant bodily injury — Penal Code 245(a)(4).
  • Assault with a firearm — Penal Code 245a2.
  • Assault with a deadly weapon — Penal Code 245a1.
  • Any serious felony.

Apart from being immune from a loitering conviction, you could also be immune from some charges, including:

  • Engaging in lewd conduct — Penal Code 647a.
  • Maintaining or creating a public nuisance — Penal Code 372.
  • Soliciting or engaging in prostitution — Penal Code 647b.
  • Misdemeanor drugs.

Immunity is frequently granted by law enforcement to encourage sex workers to provide information on serious offenses without fear of repercussions.

Related Offenses

Several offenses could be charged along with Penal Code 653.22, including:

Loitering To Solicit The Purchase Of Alcohol — Penal Code 303a

It is an offense under Penal Code 303a for anyone to loiter around or in a restaurant or bar and ask other customers or patrons to buy alcohol. If the prosecutor accuses you of violating PC 303a, he/she must prove the following elements:

  • You were loitering,
  • You were loitering in business areas where alcoholic beverages are sold to be taken upon the premises,
  • You were loitering, intending to solicit or beg any customer or patron to buy an alcoholic beverage for you.

Many prostitutes get their customers in restaurants or bars and often initiate the talk by persuading customers to purchase alcohol for them. In this case, if the law enforcers arrest you, you could face additional penalties under Penal Code 303a and loitering to engage prostitution charges. However, a conviction under PC 303a attracts a lesser punishment than a loitering conviction for committing prostitution. Generally, offenses under PC 303a are less known and usually prosecuted alongside other crimes.

The prosecutors usually prosecute the offense of loitering to solicit the purchase of alcohol as a misdemeanor offense. If you are found guilty of this crime, you could face the following penalties:

  • A fine that does not exceed $1000.
  • Misdemeanor or summary probation.
  • A jail term that does not exceed six months in a county jail.

Some of the defenses you could raise against Penal Code 303a charges include the following:

  • No probable cause.
  • Not near a subject business.
  • You were not loitering.

Lewd Conduct In Public — Penal Code 647a

Penal Code 647a defines the offense of lewd conduct in public. You could face loitering to commit prostitution charges if you have a prior conviction under this statute. This offense involves touching your or someone else's private parts in public.

Penal Code 647a also prohibits touching other parts, including female breasts or buttocks. It is an offense under Penal Code 647a to touch the listed parts while you are in public despite knowing that your behavior will offend the public. Under this statute, the motive for touching your genitals or the genitals of someone else could be:

  • To offend someone else.
  • For sexual gratification.

Lewd behavior could arise when you know that another person is present or seeing your actions and he/she will be offended by them. The judges often charge the offense of lewd conduct in public as a misdemeanor offense, and it usually attracts the following penalties:

  • A fine that does not exceed $1,000.
  • A jail term that does not exceed six months in a county jail.

Usually, you should seek the services of a competent attorney if you face charges. The attorney will be able to convince the judge to reduce your charges to a lesser crime and probably grant you misdemeanor probation instead of a jail term. You are also not required to register as a sex offender after being charged with lewd conduct in public. Many prosecutors often prosecute a violation of PC 647a with indecent exposure under PC 314.

The defenses you could raise to contest PC 647a charges include the following:

  • You are a victim of police misconduct or entrapment.
  • You did not touch your genitals or someone else’s genitals.
  • You were not in a place open to public view or a public place.
  • When touching your genitals or someone else’s genitals, you were not aware that there was somebody who would be offended by your actions.
  • You touched the genitals, but it was not for sexual gratification.

Prostitution And Solicitation — Penal Code 647b

It is a crime under PC 647b to engage in prostitution or solicit prostitution. This statute prohibits accepting or paying something of value or money in exchange for a sexual act. You could face penalties depending on whether you have committed the first or subsequent offense.

The first offense attracts a fine of $1000 and a jail term of six months in a county jail. The second offense attracts a jail term of 45 days in a county jail. The third or subsequent offense attracts a jail term of 90 days in a county jail.

Some of the defenses you could raise against PC 647b charges include the following:

  • Police entrapment.
  • Lack of intent.
  • Insufficient evidence.

Find a Pasadena Criminal Defense Attorney Near Me

You could feel confused and wonder what to do after an arrest for loitering to commit prostitution. In this situation, you need to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We can examine your case at the Michele Ferroni Pasadena Criminal Attorney Law Firm and create the best defense against your charges. If you face loitering to engage prostitution charges in Pasadena, we will be glad to help. Contact us at 626-628-0564 and talk to one of our attorneys.