Following a two-month investigation, police have arrested five workers from various spa and massage businesses in Torrance, CA for prostitution. All arrests resulted from undercover operations at the businesses.
The first arrests took place after undercover detectives conducted a sting operation at a massage business on Redondo Beach Blvd. On May 1, 41-year-old South Gate resident was arrested for engaging in an act of prostitution and a 65-year-old Gardena resident was arrested for felony pimping.
Undercover detectives made two more arrests last Thursday at a massage business on Hawthorne Blvd. A 58-year-old Yorba Linda resident and 57-year-old Redondo Beach resident were both arrested for prostitution.
Another undercover operation resulted in the arrest of a 49-year-old San Gabriel resident at a massage business on Sepulveda Blvd, also on Thursday.
California Penal Code § 647(b): Prostitution
California Penal Code § 647(b) prohibits the exchange of sexual acts for money or other goods or services. This section makes it illegal to not only engage in prostitution but to offer or agree to engage in prostitution. A person may be arrested simply for offering to exchange a sexual act for money or if he or she agrees to pay for a sexual act of some kind, even if the agreed-upon act does not take place. An alleged customer, prostitute or "pimp" (middleman who manages, aids or supervises a prostitute) may face criminal charges related to prostitution.
Prostitution is a misdemeanor offense in California, punishable by up to 6 months in county jail and a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense. Additional, enhanced penalties may apply for subsequent offenses.
Prostitution Charges and Entrapment
Prostitution arrests like the ones discussed above may result from undercover operations by police officers. In these cases, entrapment may be an issue to consider as a potential defense. Under California law, a "normally law abiding person" who is lured or induced into committing a crime that he or she would not have normally committed may have a valid defense against resulting criminal charges. If a law enforcement officer puts pressure on, harasses or threatens the defendant or commits fraud in trying to convince the defendant to commit the crime, this may be considered entrapment.
Undercover operations alone are not enough to be considered entrapment, however, and officers may even initiate the criminal activity or present an opportunity to commit a crime. In a case involving prostitution, this means that an officer may offer another person money in exchange for a sexual act. If that person accepts and takes some step toward committing the act, he or she may be arrested for prostitution. If the officer used threats, fraud, harassment or undue pressure to get the person to accept, however, this may be considered entrapment.
Using entrapment as a defense against prostitution charges can be tricky and complex, and as such it is important to consider your case from every angle before developing a strategy. Experience can help your attorney determine exactly how to approach your case while protecting your rights to the fullest extent.
If you are interested in learning more about prostitution, entrapment and other issues related to criminal law in California, in relation to a specific arrest or allegations, please do not hesitate to call our offices. At Lessem & Newstat, we offer experienced criminal defense counsel throughout the greater Los Angeles area. With our insight and guidance, you have the opportunity to make the right choices about your case. We recommend that you involve one of our legal professionals as soon as possible, as early involvement can make all the difference in whether formal charges are filed.