In many prostitution cases involving police sting operations, the police have all the evidence necessary for a conviction. Often, when they use Backpage.com to elicit a “john,” the police print out the john’s text messages that clearly demonstrate an agreement to engage in sexual contact in exchange for monetary or another form of payment. In one case, for example, our client offered to pay the police decoy with an Amazon.com gift card.
In the following case, our client was out running errands for his business when he came upon a red light on Broadway, just south of Downtown Los Angeles. It was about 4:00 p.m. on a weekday afternoon. He came to a stop and a woman, scantily clad, came up to his passenger side window and tapped on it for our client to roll it down.
Summary: Client approached by a prostitute in broad daylight while his car was at a red light in downtown Los Angeles on Broadway. The client agrees to give the prostitute money for sex, but then does not pull over to complete the deal, yet is pulled over later and arrested for violating Penal Code § 647(b). Greg discusses case facts with prosecutor and no case is filed.
Our client began the conversation by asking her if she was O.K. He sensed that she might be a prostitute looking for a john. However, our client was astute enough to begin the conversation without a sexual context. The woman responded, “sure I am, how about you? Would you like a little action?”
Our client responded by saying he did and asking what her price would be. The two quickly discussed various sex acts and fees. The traffic light then turned green and the woman, seeing this, instructed our client to move forward and enter a nearby hotel parking lot, where she would then meet him.
Our client sensed something was wrong. The woman was too assertive. He decided not to turn into the nearby parking lot. Instead, he kept driving back to work.
However, no more than perhaps 50 yards past the designated parking lot to meet the woman and take further steps towards exchanging money for sex, a police car pulled up behind him. Our client dutifully pulled over and the police officer advised our client that he was being arrested for solicitation of prostitution.
In response, our client protested that the woman had solicited him, rather than he seeking her out, and that he did not meet her where she directed. He had never agreed to meet her in the parking lot. She had only suggested this to him.
The police officer shrugged this off, sarcastically commenting, “You can tell that to the judge. We got your conversation tape recorded. You’ll see.” On went the handcuffs and into the police car our client went.
After being released from the 77th Precinct Jail nearly four hours later, he called Greg Hill & Associates the same day. It was now nearly 9:00 p.m. Greg and the client discussed the case facts over the phone for about 30 minutes.
As the client had no prior criminal history and Penal Code § 647(b) is eligible for judicial diversion under AB2124 (codified at Penal Code §§ 1001.94 to 1001.98 (this program ended on January 1, 2017)). Greg explained how he would ask the judge for judicial diversion so that the client would avoid a conviction for solicitation of prostitution. The client, after all, had two young children and hoped to be involved as a soccer coach, school volunteer and be involved as much as he could. With background checks being required for such positions, he feared he would be excluded from such activities.
First, however, Greg explained that he would write letters to both the Los Angeles Police Department and the Downtown Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office explaining why our client did not violate Penal Code § 647(b) because he did not take the step of meeting the police decoy in the parking lot as she suggested. He did not come to an agreement with her, or at the least the agreement was ambiguous enough to fall short of being beyond a reasonable doubt.
Greg then wrote both letters, arguing the case from the outset. Our office received no response at all.
Greg then appeared at the hearing for the arraignment in the Clara Shortridge Foltz building in Downtown Los Angeles. At first, the case had not been selected for filing, but Greg was told to wait a few hours in case the case against our client was filed late.
By 4:00 p.m., however, the case had not been filed. Greg was advised that it was a “DA Reject,” meaning the prosecutor’s office had declined to bring the case. The client was very happy that Greg had written the two letters to the police and the prosecutor, highlighting the weaknesses in the case.
For more information about prostitution and the other issues raised in this case, please click on the following articles:
- What Is Penal Code § 647 (b), Prostitution and Solicitation for Prostitution?
- Appeals Court Affirms LAPD Officer’s Conviction for Solicitation of Prostitution (Penal Code § 647 (b))
- What Can I Do About My Criminal Record on the Internet When the Court Dismissed My Case?