Is Prostitution Legal in California


The So-Called “Vices” of Alcohol, Drugs, and Sex have changed through time in American society. In many ways, we now have a more relaxed attitude toward them. That may prompt some people to ask ” Is prostitution legal in California?

No, is the response. All of California has laws against prostitution. According to California law, soliciting or indulging in prostitution are both considered “acts of prostitution.” The first offense of soliciting or engaging carries a $1,000 fine and up to six months in county prison as penalties.

Prostitution is defined as the exchange of money, commodities, or services for sex or obscene behavior under Penal Code 647(b) PC. It is vital to remember that occasionally obscene or sex acts do not even need to occur to be called “complete.”

It is also unlawful to demand that someone perform a prostitute act. The prosecution must demonstrate that the defendant truly intended to carry out the act in order to successfully prosecute someone for solicitation. They often do this by providing proof that the defendant offered money or other benefits.

What About the New Prostitution Law in California?

The Senate Bill 233

On July 30, 2019, California Senate Bill 233, sometimes known as SB 233, became law. It becomes active on January 1st, 2020. The state’s prostitution statute has undergone two significant adjustments thanks to SB 233. It declares that the possession of condoms is no longer sufficient justification for an arrest for prostitution and exempts persons from prosecution for various sex crimes if they are cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation of other crimes.

According to SB 233, a person is exempt from prosecution if they disclose certain offenses to the police that would require them to admit to a certain drug or sex felony. It offers protection to those who come forward to say they were a victim of, or a witness to, one of the following crimes:

Any heinous crime

  • Some severe assaults, such as assault with a lethal weapon (Penal Code 245 PC),
  • Assault with a firearm (245 PC of the Penal Code), and
  • Attack with a weapon likely to result in serious bodily harm (PC Penal Code 245);
  • Bodily injury brought on by domestic violence (Penal Code 275.5 PC),
  • Extortion (518 PC Penal Code),
  • Penal codes 243.4, 236.1, and 646.9 all pertain to sexual battery, human trafficking, and stalking, respectively.

Senate Bill 357

California recently enacted Senate Bill 357 (also known as SB 357), eliminating the state’s ban on loitering with the intention of engaging in prostitution.

SB 357 gives those with past convictions the ability to ask the court to have this charge dropped and erased from their records, in addition to decriminalizing loitering,.

Before the enactment of SB 357, prostitution-related loitering in public places might result in a misdemeanor conviction. A suspect might still be in violation of the law even if they never performed a sex act for money.

Note that a $1,000 fine and up to 6 months in prison were the possible penalties for convictions for loitering with the purpose to engage in prostitution.

Prostitution is considered a minor sex offense in California. Initial offenses may result in:

  • 6 months in prison, and
  • a $1,000 fine.

Prostitution is a crime with a history. As a result, repeated infractions result in harsher punishments, including the minimum requirements of:

  • second offense: 45 days in county prison, and
  • For a third or subsequent crime, 90 days in county prison.

An infraction that occurred in a car or other motor vehicle and close to a house may result in the suspension of a driver’s license.

However, a prostitution conviction does not result in an automatic registration as a sex offender in California.

Prostitution carries legal consequences for both the sex worker and the client. This, therefore, makes seeking the legal counsel of a criminal defense attorney very necessary for everyone concerned.

Solicitation, what about it?

Prostitution-related crimes include solicitation. While solicitation refers to the desire to engage in prostitution, prostitution refers to the sexual act and payment. In California, soliciting is a felony that includes:

  • Firstly, asking another person to engage in a prostitution act,
  • Secondly, planning to do a prostitution act with the other individual, and
  • Finally, the request’s recipient is the other person.

SB 233 covers prostitution and solicitation. Again, the new rule prevents police from using condoms to prove a person’s guilt for an arrest based on solicitation. People who report a crime that qualifies for immunity from prosecution are exempt from prosecution for solicitation.

A defendant must establish that:

  • The accused fell prey to police entrapment.
  • there is not enough proof to establish the claim without a reasonable doubt, or
  • The intention to seek or engage in prostitution was not present.


Prostitution is commonly defined by California Penal Code 647 as participating in sexual activity for payment or other rewards. Therefore, it is against the law to engage in or solicit prostitution.

Frequently Asked Questions


Prostitution used to be seen as a crime related to vagrancy. Nowadays, Nevada is the only state in the union that permits legal prostitution, which takes the form of controlled brothels, under the conditions outlined in the Nevada Revised Statutes. There are now functioning brothels in just eight counties.

In California, how much does a prostitution ticket cost?

Additionally, the consequences for repeat offenses is more severe under the law. Prostitution or solicitation offenses under PC 647 are punishable by up to six months in county prison. up to $1,000 in fines.

Las Vegas and Clark County, where Las Vegas is the county seat, both forbid prostitution. Prostitution is only permitted in authorized houses of prostitution, according to Nevada Revised Statutes 201.354. Mar 17, 2022

Where is prostitution common in the US?

All 50 US states, with the exception of one, prohibit the practice. The only American state that permits some legal prostitution in certain of its counties in Nevada. Currently, there are functioning brothels in 7 of Nevada’s 16 counties.


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