Our client, age 25, was driving along Sepulveda Boulevard, south toward downtown Van Nuys. It was about 7:00 p.m. and approaching dark on this September evening. Our client had a friend from work with him. The two crossed Saticoy and continued southbound, into a generally residential area with large apartment buildings and single family homes.
On the right side of the road stood a woman dressed in leopard skin colored tights, a bright pink top and wearing a pink baseball cap. She also wore high heels. She looked out of place in such a neighborhood and immediately caught our client’s eye.
Feeling curious, our client pulled over to the side of the street and let the window down along the passenger side. Our client leaned to his right and told the woman (a police officer dressed as prostitute, aka a “decoy”) that she needed someone to appreciate her beauty. The decoy responded by asking if our client would like to be that someone. The decoy then added, “but it won’t be for free.” Our client asked “well, how much are we talking about?” The decoy responded with “75 roses for everything.”
Our client, who had been having this conversation with his friend sitting between the decoy and him, then said, “No, I gotta’ go. I’m gonna’ leave” and did then drive off.
Within a block, there was a black and white Los Angeles Police Department SUV behind him with its flashing blue and red lights and its headlights flashing.
Our client pulled over immediately. A second police SUV also came to the scene and the officers got out. Our client was then issued a ticket for “Solicitation of Prostitution (PC 647(b)).” The officer did not arrest our client and take him into the police station to be booked and fingerprinted. The officer also did not take our client’s photograph, as some officers do.
Instead, our client was issued the ticket and the officers left within five minutes.
Our client’s friend remained in the car the whole time our client was outside with the police officers. Once the police left and our client was left holding the ticket, he and his passenger discussed the ticket.
The client’s friend had been represented by Greg Hill & Associates several years earlier on a DUI and recommended our office to the client.
The client then called Greg Hill & Associates about a week later and described what had happened. Greg commented that he did not think the client actually committed solicitation of prostitution because the client never agreed to the price quoted by the decoy. Our client also did not take a “substantial step” toward meeting the woman to have sex. Instead, our client, in response to the decoy quoting a certain fee, said “No, I gotta’ go. I’m gonna’ leave” and then did leave.
Greg thought that at most, the client might be prosecuted for loitering for purposes of prostitution (Penal Code § 653.22), but our client did not pass by the woman, only to circle back to talk to her. Greg explained that in most loitering for purposes of prostitution cases, police will observe our client drive by the decoy, then turn around and return to the location of the decoy or a real prostitute. The man may also drive around the block to get another look at the woman, or even talk to the woman several times. In other words, the “john” loiters in the area by staying in the vicinity. Here, our client did nothing like that. He pulled over immediately upon seeing her.
Greg therefore told the client that he would only charge the client for one trip to the courthouse because Greg was certain nothing would be filed, based on the description of events. Our office also wrote the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office demanding a “City Attorney Reject” because the facts were insufficient for either 647(b) or 653.22.
On the day of the arraignment, our client stayed at work while Greg went to the Van Nuys Superior Court for the arraignment. As Greg had hoped, no case was filed, which made our client quite happy and relieved.
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