In most parts of the United States, including California, prostitution is against the law. Prostitution means buying or selling sexual intercourse or a lewd act (i.e., sexual contact or touching) for money or something of value.
According to California Penal Code 647B, the following three acts of prostitution are prohibited:
- Engage in prostitution
- Solicit prostitution (i.e., request or ask another person to engage in sexual intercourse or a lewd act in exchange for money)
- Agree to engage in prostitution (e.g., give a person money, withdraw money from an ATM, drive to the agreed-upon location to engage in sexual activity, or instruct the person who accepted the money to commit a sexual act)
Prostitution is a misdemeanor in California. A first offense is punishable by a jail term of up to six months and/or a maximum fine of $1,000. A second offense carries a minimum jail sentence of 45 days, while a third offense can result in a minimum jail term of 90 days.
Other sex crimes related to prostitution:
- Pimping – Receiving all or part of the profits a prostitute makes or soliciting customers for prostitution. This offense can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony in California.
- Pandering – Attempting to influence someone to become or remain a prostitute or work in a brothel. This offense is also charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
- Aiding or supervising a prostitute – Recruiting, supervising, directing, or otherwise helping someone commit prostitution. Aiding or supervising a prostitute is a misdemeanor, which carries the same penalties as prostitution.
- Loitering with the intent to commit prostitution – Loiter in a public area in order to engage in prostitution. This offense is punishable by the same penalties as prostitution.
- Human trafficking – Commercial sex trafficking involves forced sexual labor, whether involving adults or minors. Human trafficking is a felony offense that carries a lifetime prison sentence.