Matthew Ruff, Attorney at Law: Toll Free 1-877-213-4453
Solicitation for prostitution is a criminal offense punishable as a misdemeanor. Most prosecutions originate from sting operations employed by the police to catch either the customer, referred to as a "john", or the prostitute. Two types of stings can be utilized. The first is an Internet sting that is usually placed on back page, Craigslist, city vibe or the like, in the adult entertainment and escort sections. These operations are intended to catch the john looking for sex on the Internet. In Los Angeles, most operations use a fake ad created by a police officer which contains specific wording that can be later used as evidence of the user's intent such as sexually explicit wording. The second kind of undercover operation uses police that call real ads with the intent to catch the prostitute in the act. Attorney Mattew Ruff is very familiar with the tactics used by law enforcement and knows how to defend these types of crimes.
The crime of prostitution is actually made up of three different types of conduct that can be prosecuted under Penal Code section 647b. The offense can be proved one of 3 ways 1. The offender solicits another to commit and act of sex for money, 2. The accused enters into an agreement with another to engage in a sex act lewd act for money, they possess the requisite intent and they commit an act in furtherance of the agreement. The third and final way is the the District Attorney shows that two people actually engaged in an act of prostitution. Regardless of the method, the party charged must have the specific intent to engage in an act of prostitution, whether or not the act was eventually carried out. Interestingly, with regard to the "act in furtherance", this can occur either before or after the agreement. Commonly, the act is proved by the police testifying that the charged individual entered a motel room or exchanged money.
In one recent case, Mr. Ruff was retained by a young lady charged with PC 647b, otherwise known as solicitation. The incident took place near the LAX Airport at a posh hotel. The police set up a sting operation on Backpage and lured individuals to the location after communication online or on the phone. The client was a student who lived in Northern California and she was concerned about the conviction and how it might ruin her life. Matthew understood and sat down with the prosecutor and negotiated a diversion that would get all charges dismissed after one year.
In another case Matthew was hired by two clients arrested after reponding to a Craigslist Ad in the city of Long Beach. The two individuals were friends who showed up at a motel and were intercepted by undercover decoys targeting unsuspecting citizens in an effort to curb prostitution. The police alleged the two had money and intent to solicit an act of illicit sex from the undercover operatives, both attractive females. The men were obviously concerned about the repercussions a convcition of this nature would have on their future job searches and background checks. Matthew negotiated a settlement with the prosecutors that would result in a complete dismissal of all charges.
Prostitution criminal offenses are generally part of a broad category of "quality of life" crimes that include solicitation of acts of prostitution, pimping and pandering and engaging in the act of prostitution. In recent years Los Angeles County has stepped up enforcement of solicitation of prostitution by using sting operations involving the use of a police decoy, these operations target "johns" instead of the actual prostitute. The theory behind this type of enforcement tool is that if the police remove the customer then the prostitutes themselves will go away. The major problem with conducting these undercover prostitution stings is that they invariably ensnare innocent citizens and passersby that get caught up in the frenzy of arresting suspected solicitors of illicit sexual acts. It is not at all uncommon for aggressive police decoys to illegally entrap innocent unsuspecting men who may stop at the request of the undercover agent. An arrest for solicitation of prostitution usually results in the impound of the vehicle being driven at the time of arrest. Long Beach Police in particular will pursue the forfeiture of the suspect's car, even before the individual is convicted of the suspected crime. The Los Angeles city prosecutor has a policy of no plea bargaining and will vigorously prosecute acts of Penal Code section 647(b).
In recent months, Matthew has implemented various approaches to have cases dropped before they get into Court. He does this by utilizing little known "diversion programs" that exist in many cities. For example, Matthew was able to secure a dismissal of all charges in a case where his client had a clean record and a good background and solicited in Los Angeles. The charges went away and nothing appeared on his client's criminal record.
If convicted of either solicitation of prostitution or actually engaging in an act of prostitution, the law requires AIDS testing, education and probation. Furthermore, a conviction will stay on an individual's permanent record and can be used to elevate the offense to a felony should a subsequent adjudication of prostitution occur. Los Angeles Prostitution Defense Lawyer, Matthew Ruff has personally defended hundreds of criminal charges of solicitation of prostitution in the last fifteen years. Many defenses exist to successfully defend these types of crimes, including unlawful arrest, entrapment, illegal search and seizure, affirmative defenses, mistake, among many others. What many people do not know is that in order to be found guilty of the criminal charge of soliciting a prostitute the District Attorney must prove the defendant not only engaged in a solicitation, but also committed an act in furtherance thereto. What this means is that if a discussion takes place regarding exchanging sex for money, the suspect must thereafter commit some physical action to further or complete the actual sexual conduct. Put another way: An agreement to engage in an act of prostitution by itself does not constitute a violation of California law unless some act, in addition to the agreement, be done in furtherance of the commission of an act of prostitution by the person agreeing to engage in that act.
Another offense commonly seen filed by Los Angeles County prosecutors is that of Loitering for purposes of prostitution, Penal Code 653.22. The law looks to the actions of the alleged perpetrator to establish the crime. For example, a person that circles an area in a vehicle and attempts to contact a prostitute may be guilty of the offense. The intent is what is at issue, it is a specific intent crime and can be evidenced by acting in a manner and under circumstances which openly demonstrate the purpose of inducing, enticing, or soliciting prostitution or procuring another to commit prostitution. In recent years there has been an increase as well in the enforcement of prostitution laws on line. More and more local police agencies are cruising the Internet looking for suspected prostitution. Craigslist, among others have been targeted by detectives acting undercover to catch the unwary, many times entrapping innocent patrons of these sites.
As an example, in early 2009 Mr. Ruff was retained on an Inglewood case wherein the client was accused of loitering for the purpose of prostitution when he responded to an ad on the internet Craig"s List by a female seeking a "date". The client allegedly drove to a location and met the female for presumably engaging in sexual acts for money. The client was a reputable individual with no criminal history and had a good job. Matthew Ruff refused to allow the charges to taint his future record and fought the case until the city prosecutor agreed to drop the original charge. It is this passion about his clients that sets him far apart from any other criminal defense attorney.
In another recent case, Matthew was hired by a Los Angeles County resident to represent him in a 647b case originating in Gardena that was being prosecuted in the Torrance/South Bay Courthouse. The client had met a young lady and was giving her a ride to a motel when he was stopped by police. Turns out the woman was a known prostitute and both he and the lady were arrested and charged with solicitation. Fortunately, Mr. Ruff knew the assistant L.A. District Attorney that was handling the case and was able to negotiate a dismissal of the charges upon completion of an AIDS education class and test, along with a little community service.
In another noteworthy case, Matthew was hired by a stressed out client that was facing an upcoming Court appearance in Los Angeles County. The client was arrested and charged with an act of prostitution stemming from an internet ad on backpage and had a lot to lose if convicted. Mr. Ruff went to Court for the client and within a short time negotiated a dismissal of the original charges.
The Law Office of Matthew Ruff has achieved many victories in Court for all offenses alleging acts of solicitation of prostitution for example in one recent case the attorney represented a defendant charged with PC 647(b) who was facing mandatory jail in Los Angeles County. Following extensive negotiations, we worked out a dismissal of the charges in exchange for payment of restitution to the city.
A big question many folks have is what immigration consequences does a solicitation case pose to non-citizens? The answer depends largely on the result of the criminal case. If the accused hires a defense lawyer to get the charges dismissed then the consequences may be minimal. Any criminal conviction, even one for PC647b, can have deleterious effects on the chances of being a United States citizen.
Those who have found themselves arrested for one of the aforementioned offenses do have a way out. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can find a viable defense to extricate the client from a potential negative scar on his record. An attorney can also go to Court on behalf of the client thereby sparing him from embarrassment and humiliation. Our effective defense lawyers have been very successful in representing not only those individuals charged with soliciting the services of alleged prostitutes, but also the business owners, escort services, massage parlors and other legitimate businesses that have been unlawfully targeted by overzealous cops and police agencies in Los Angeles County such as Gardena, Long Beach, Signal Hill, Compton, Carson, Inglewood, Torrance, Redondo Beach and other municipalities in the state of California.
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