Entrapment as a Common Defense in a California Prostitution Case

When a person is charged with Prostitution, a commonly used defense is entrapment. An entrapment defense will be successful when it can be proven that law enforcement engaged in behavior that would cause an otherwise law abiding citizen to engage in an unlawful act. If it is shown that a law enforcement officer pressured or persuaded a person to engage in prostitution, there is a strong defense in favor of the person charged and will lead to a dismissal of the case.

The legislation defines prostitution as a lewd act between persons for money or other consideration. California Penal Code ยง 647 (b) punishes those that solicit, agree to participate, or participate in prostitution. Therefore, if a person is pressured or coerced by a law enforcement officer to engage in prostitution they will have a valid entrapment defense. However, if there is no fraud or pressure and it can be proven that they have a predisposition to engage in prostitution the entrapment defense will not be valid. The prosecutor will demonstrate that a person has the predisposition to commit a crime through the use of any existing criminal record and proof of character. Predisposition to commit an unlawful act will strongly weaken an entrapment defense.

For example, let’s say that Person A has nothing on their criminal record besides a lot of parking tickets on their record and cannot afford to pay them. Additionally, she is not known by friends and family to be of a promiscuous nature. An officer contacts Person A and asks her if she would like for him to make the tickets disappear, and all she has to do is come over to his home and engage in some activities with him. Person A says no. The officer continues to call her asking for the same, and eventually tells her that he will make sure that due to the huge amount of unpaid tickets, he will make sure that she not only owes steep fines, but will serve jail time as well. Person A, terrified at the idea and scared agrees and engages in unlawful conduct that results in a charge of prostitution.

In this situation, Person A has a strong defense with entrapment. Prosecutors may try to show that she has a predisposition to engage in solicitation or prostitution, but their argument would be very week based on the facts. She has no prior criminal
background, and a good reputation among friends and her community. Furthermore, she declined the officer’s offer, but he continued to pressure her offering her a deal she needed, even threatening her with high penalties and jail time until she felt she had no choice but to concede.

Based on the facts, an entrapment defense will likely be successful, resulting in a dismissal of her case. To determine whether the facts of your prostitution case will yield a successful entrapment defense, speak to an experienced Los Angeles Criminal Defense attorney. They can provide you with an analysis of your case and discuss all the available options that you may have.