September 18, 2022 By Stephen Klarich

Are Escort Services Legal in California?

What Are Escort Services? 

In general, escorts are people who provide their companionship to paying clients. Customers may pay an escort to accompany them to events or even to just spend time with them. Escorts are often booked by agencies or can be booked independently via online sites. Many jurisdictions require special escort licenses in order for escort companies to operate. These licenses often require extensive background checks. It is important to note that escorts are prohibited from performing sexual acts for their clients in exchange for compensation. Any paid sexual conduct by an escort could leave the escort susceptible to prostitution charges. 

Escort Services Legal in California

Escorts vs. Prostitution: What’s the Difference? 

An escort is very different from a prostitute. Unlike escort services, prostitution is the practice of engaging in sexual activity in exchange for payment and is illegal in almost all 50 states. Under California Penal Code Section 647(b), an individual who solicits, agrees to engage in, or engages in any act of prostitution with the intent to receive compensation, money, or anything of value from another person is guilty of a misdemeanor. PC Section 647(b) further states that an individual agrees to engage in an act of prostitution when the individual intentionally manifests an acceptance of an offer to so engage. 

While some states punish the act of prostitution, other states like California also criminalize the acts of soliciting prostitution and arranging for prostitution. Solicitation in this context means to request that someone else engage in intercourse or a lewd act in exchange for compensation. The person seeking to pay for the sexual services, often referred to as “Johns,” can face charges of solicitation of prostitution. In addition, third parties called “pimps,” who recruit prostitutes or recommend Johns towards prostitutes, may also be convicted under this statute. 

In California, prostitution is generally charged as a misdemeanor. The penalties for first time offenses include: 

  • Up to $10,000 in fines 
  • Up to 60 days in county jail 

For subsequent prostitution convictions, the penalties are a minimum of 45 days in jail for a second offense and a minimum of 90 days for a third offense. If the prostitution offense involved a car, a judge may also suspend the defendant’s driver’s license for 30 days. Sex offender registration is generally not required for prostitution or solicitation unless you are charged in conjunction with another sex-related crime. 

Are Escort Services Legal? 

While legitimate escort companies are legal in the United States, some agencies use escort services as a facade to provide clients with illegal sexual acts. If an escort agrees to perform sexual acts for a client in exchange for compensation, the escort and the agency could face criminal charges for soliciting and engaging in prostitution. As a result, many escort agencies are the subject of sting operations by law enforcement officers. 

Additionally, many people may wonder whether it’s legal to have consensual sex with an escort in their own personal time. This is often a gray area, and these situations should be discussed on a case-by-case basis with an experienced sex crimes attorney. For example, if there is probable cause that a client hired an escort in order to pursue sexual conduct at a later time, it is possible that both the client and the escort may face criminal charges. As such, it is better to be safe than sorry, and you should consult with a skilled attorney first before making any decisions. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you have been accused of soliciting or engaging in prostitution, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of sex crimes cases, and we have the skills and resources to clear your name and avoid harsh penalties. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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