Our client, age 35, was visiting the United States for a few months and staying with his friend in Van Nuys. He was working with his friend and started feeling comfortable in California. He even planned to stay in the United States, never to return to France, and began the process of applying for a green card to be a permanent resident.
One evening, at about 8:30 p.m., he was driving back to his friend’s home from a long day at work. He was heading northbound on Sepulveda in Van Nuys, parallel to the 405 Freeway. He crossed Sherman Way and noticed some women who he believed were prostitutes along the right side of the street.
He continued driving northward, crossing Valerio, and saw a few more on the left (west) side of the street. One could see him looking at her and waved at him.
Our client kept driving, crossing Saticoy and saw one more woman he believed was a prostitute. He turned his car around and began heading southbound on Sepulveda towards her.
Our client pulled over to the side of the street and tried talking to the woman in English, but with a heavy French accent. He knew quite a bit of English.
Our client began the nervous conversation by simply saying “hi” to the woman, who was a police decoy dressed like a prostitute. The decoy quickly got down to business, responding with “what do you have?”
Our client responded, “Fifty dollars.” The decoy responded with, “You want some of this?” and displayed her cleavage to the client. Our client responded, “Yeah. I’ll go and get the money.”
Our client then drove away, but was stopped by other officers of the Los Angeles Police Department just about a block away. He was pulled from the car and asked to sit on the curb nearby while officers searched the car, which was his friend’s car.
Due to our client’s limited English and not being the owner of the car, officers took our client into custody to contact the owner of the car to verify he had permitted our client to drive it.
Our client’s friend did not answer his phone, so our client was arrested and given a booking number at the police station near the Van Nuys Courthouse. Eventually, his friend did answer the telephone and verified that our client had permission to drive the car. It was now late at night, almost midnight, before our client was released to his friend.
The next day, the client’s friend called Greg Hill & Associates and spoke with Greg to describe what had happened to the client. The friend described what had happened and was concerned that his friend may be denied his green card based on this arrest.
Greg then described how such cases are handled in Van Nuys and how the District Attorney’s Office no longer prosecutes solicitation of prostitution (Penal Code § 647(b)) cases, but the Los Angeles City Attorney’s did, especially if the arrest was on the west side of Sepulveda Boulevard.
Greg explained how, given the facts of the case as described by the client’s friend, he did not think the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office would file the case because there really was not a solid agreement to engage in sex in exchange for money because the client did not have the money to exchange.
Greg further explained that there was not a “substantial step in furtherance of the agreement” that is usually after the agreement is made, wherein the decoy instructs the client to drive to some place to meet her.
Therefore, Greg commented to the client’s friend that he thought the case that might be filed against the client was for loitering for purposes of solicitation, but even that was not a strong case because the client did not drive repeatedly back and forth, up and down Sepulveda like most such cases involve.
Therefore, Greg charged the client a partial fee because he believed no case would be filed and that he would only need to go to the Van Nuys courthouse one time to simply verify or confirm that no case was filed on the day of the arraignment.
On the day of the arraignment, Greg then appeared for the client at the Van Nuys courthouse. No case was filed and Greg explained this news to the client, who was quite happy.
However, our office then monitored the filing of a case, but it was not filed within the one-year statute of limitations for a misdemeanor such as this.
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