Our client, age 18, was a passenger in his friend’s car. The friend, age 21, was headed out to get a six pack of beer and invited our client to come along. Our client had recently been accepted to Penn State and had sent his deposit to Penn State to begin classes there in about six months.
The two were headed up Sepulveda Boulevard in Van Nuys. It was about 7:00 p.m. and getting dark.
The friend noticed two women dressed like prostitutes standing along a fence outside an auto repair shop. Without asking our client if he was comfortable with talking to the women, the friend pulled up alongside the ladies and leaned over toward out client. He then spoke through the passenger window with the two ladies.
Our client’s friend told the women they certainly looked good that evening and the women responded by asking him if he wanted to get to know them better. Our client’s friend answered, “Absolutely, what do you charge?”
One of the women answered, “$60 for everything,” which is street vernacular for oral copulation and sexual intercourse to orgasm. Our client was surprised at how quickly and bluntly the conversation progressed.
The other woman then looked at our client and asked him, “What about you? Do you want the same thing?” Our client, very embarrassed and somewhat shy, answered, “I guess so.”
The women then told our client’s friend to meet them at a motel that was just about a block away. The women said to meet them in a specific room that they had already paid for to use for the evening.
Little did our client’s friend know, and neither did our client know, but the two women were undercover Los Angeles Police Department officers working for the human trafficking task force. Setting up a sting operation like our client and his friend became participants in was a regular activity for the women.
So, after our client’s friend told the women “O.K.” when instructed where to meet them, he pulled forward toward the motel. Within seconds, there was a police cruiser behind with its lights flashing. Our client and his friend then realized the police had been watching them all along.
Police cited both our client and his friend with violations of Penal Code § 647(b), solicitation of prostitution, had each sign a promise to appear in the Van Nuys Superior Court in September 2022 and allowed them to leave.
The next morning, the client’s father called Greg Hill & Associates to discuss the prior evenings events experienced by his son. The client’s father was a civil litigation attorney and wanted to know what could be done.
Greg explained that, in his experience, such cases in Van Nuys were prosecuted by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office because the District Attorney’s office, under George Gascon’s leadership, no longer prosecuted solicitation of prostitution cases.
Greg further explained that the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office often referred such cases to a pre-filing diversion program for an office hearing, or more recently, through the Neighborhood Justice Program, or NJP.
The client’s father asked about his son pleading to a “reduced charge,” as it commonly done in other crimes. Greg explained that the most common alternative charge is a violation of Penal Code § 653.22, however, a new law (Senate Bill 357) repealed § 653.22, so that option would not be available anymore.
Greg then explained that what he would do is write a letter to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in Van Nuys and briefly explain why the client was a good candidate for the NJP program. The client then retained Greg Hill & Associates.
Greg then wrote the letter he promised to the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office in Van Nuys, suggesting that the case simply not be filed at all, but in the alternative, explaining that because the client was just 18, was not the driver of the car, was heading to Penn State University and was not likely to repeat such behavior, the NJP program was a good option for resolving this type of case.
Several weeks passed after Greg Hill & Associates mailed out the letter, with no response.
Greg then went to the arraignment for the client, who was back in Happy Valley (Penn State) beginning his college education. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office told Greg that the case had been referred to the NJP, which made our client (and his father) quite pleased.
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