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The Sting: Understanding Entrapment and Prostitution

By San Diego Attorney on July 7, 2021

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California has taken a mixed stance on prostitution over the years. While it is illegal in all contexts across the state, new laws have been enacted to protect prostitutes from prosecution in certain scenarios… but the state has also continued efforts to limit prostitution as much as possible. For “johns” and other sexual solicitors, there are still harsh penalties, and law enforcement has continued to utilize prostitution stings to catch and prosecute offenders.

What Are Prostitution Stings?

Prostitution stings are a type of law enforcement investigation where undercover officers try to catch individuals in the act of soliciting prostitutes. This can range from having officers pose as prostitutes online, making fake posts on online forums and websites, to renting out fake establishments like massage parlors to arrest individuals who are interested in soliciting a prostitute. The focus of a prostitution sting is on arresting the potential clientele for the charge of solicitation; only a handful involve arresting prostitutes or individuals for pimping and pandering.

To charge you with soliciting a prostitute, the prosecution must show that you offered to pay someone or provide compensation in return for a sexual act and intended to engage in said act. If an individual entered a massage parlor and offered to pay for additional “favors” or services, then it could lead to him being charged with solicitation.

Consequences of a Solicitation Conviction

Solicitation is a misdemeanor in California and also has tiered sentences, meaning prior charges can increase the penalties for the current charge. For a first-time charge, a defendant can be punished with up to six months in jail and/or a maximum $1,000 fine. However, for a second offense, you can be placed in jail for a minimum of 45 days, and 90 days for a third offense. There are also more serious charges if a defendant is accused of soliciting a minor, committing lewd conduct in public, or facilitating an act of prostitution.

When Are Prostitution Stings Entrapment?

One of the most common defenses in soliciting cases is entrapment. Entrapment is a situation where a citizen is induced to commit a crime they otherwise would not have, often due to fraud, force, fear, intimidation, or threats. To argue entrapment, your attorney must prove two elements:

  • The police induced you into committing a crime; and
  • You had no predisposition to commit a crime.

In solicitation cases, entrapment can apply when a defendant is tricked or pressured into paying for sexual acts when they ordinarily would not have. This can include the undercover officer making vague statements about what services he or she is offering, the undercover officer pressuring or threatening the defendant into paying for a sexual act, or the officer making the defendant believe he or she is purchasing a normal service, such as a massage.

In order to successfully use an entrapment defense, you need the skill and expertise of a San Diego criminal defense lawyer at jD LAW. We have more than 30 years of experience defending clients throughout San Diego and North County in complex criminal case. We can go over your charges and begin the process of building your defense strategy. If you have been charged with soliciting a prostitute in San Diego, call us at (760) 630-2000 for a free case evaluation.

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