Our client, age 36, was a certified nurse’s assistant and single. He had come to the United States from China and his English was not too good. His social life was limited. When asked what he like to do in his free time, he would say he liked to play video games and watch pornography. He had no criminal history.
He became interested in meeting a prostitute, so he went to Backpage.com to find one. He responded to an advertisement from an “escort” who described herself as “tiny, petite and 19.” Our client was unaware that the advertisement was placed by the Compton Police Department and when he texted the number, he spoke with a police officer posing as a prostitute.
In 30 Words or Less: Our client, not a U.S. citizen, contacted a woman online at Backpage.com who was actually a police decoy posing as an underage prostitute. She told our client that she was sixteen, but our client persisted in trying to meet her at a hotel. Case filed against our client as a misdemeanor under 647(b)(3) and resolved with no jail.
The client asked to meet with “Marilyn” and the two discussed “full service” for $250. In discussing what “full service” included, the decoy advised our client that she was really only sixteen years old. Our client responded by saying the two would not have sex, but they would still take a shower together and kiss. The decoy expressed concern that “things might happen” in the shower, but our client said “no penetration” in trying to reassure her. Our client then texted the decoy pictures of himself and requested that the decoy reciprocate.
The two then agreed to meet at a Hampton Inn in Carson. Our client went to the hotel at the specified time and knocked on the door to the hotel room.
He did not bring any money because he just wanted to see the woman he thought he was communicating with. He was simply curious what she looked like.
A male police officer opened the door and promptly arrested our client when he asked to see “Marilyn.”
The client was arrested on charges of violating Penal Code § 288(b)(1) (“Lewd or Lascivious Acts with a Minor,” also known as prostitution with a minor), a felony. Bail was set at $50,000. A conviction for a violation of this code section carries with it an obligation to register as a sex offender for life.
Our client’s brother posted bail for the client and notified his mother of the arrest. The mom immediately flew out from China to the United States to discuss the case with her son.
The two called many attorneys and met with several, including Greg Hill. They retained Greg Hill & Associates, who quickly contacted the Carson Sheriff’s Department and the Compton District Attorney’s office, explaining that the case should really be filed as a misdemeanor violation of Penal Code § 647(b)(3) instead. The letter described how our client, upon learning that “Marilyn” was underage, refused to have sex with her, but did agree to meet with her. Moreover, such conduct, while still problematic, was not the type of conduct that should result in a lifetime obligation to register as a sex offender.
Greg and the client then appeared in the Compton Courthouse for the arraignment and was pleased to see that the case was indeed filed as a misdemeanor, not a felony. The charge against the client were for a violation of Penal Code § 647(b)(3), engaging in prostitution with a minor.
The initial plea bargain offered by the Compton District Attorney was in exchange for a no contest plea, thirty-six months of summary probation, payment of a court fine of $300 plus penalties and assessments, performance of sixty days of Cal-Trans labor, attendance at 52 sexual deviancy classes and an HIV test.
While Greg was relieved that the case was filed as a misdemeanor, he knew that the client and the charges were eligible for judicial diversion under Penal Code §§ 1001.94 to 1001.98, wherein the client would be eligible to earn a dismissal with sealing of the police report, on the judge’s discretion.
Accordingly, Greg made an oral motion for judicial diversion with the judge. The judge listened to the facts and Greg’s argument that our client’s career was in jeopardy due to his having a state-issued Certified Nurse’s Assistant license, which might be revoked or suspended as a result of a conviction.
The judge politely denied judicial diversion, stating that the case was a serious case and that our client needs to get the message to never patronize a prostitute again. However, the judge suggested to the DA that he reduce the plea bargain terms from sixty days of Cal-Trans to thirty and said that he would entertain a motion for early termination of probation after 18 months if the client performed all requirements of probation.
The client then accepted the plea bargain, relieved to avoid a felony and determined to fulfill all conditions of probation to earn early termination of probation and then expungement thereafter of the conviction.
For more information about solicitation of prostitution, please click on the following articles:
- What Is Penal Code § 647(b), Prostitution and Solicitation for Prostitution?
- What Is Loitering to Commit Prostitution, Penal Code 653.22?
- What Is Meeting a Child for Lewd Purposes (Penal Code § 288.4)?