Los Angeles is clearly a place with an active sex worker economy. The only problem is that prostitution is illegal in Los Angeles and throughout California. Whether you are a customer or a sex worker, you could face serious legal consequences if you engage in these acts. But if you were visiting Los Angeles for the first time, you might assume that the sex trade is entirely unregulated in the city. After all, there are certain streets and neighborhoods where sex workers freely offer their services with seemingly no fear of criminal consequences. So, what exactly is going on in Los Angeles? What is legal, and what is illegal?

Both Buying and Selling Sex are Illegal in California

No aspect of the sex trade has been legalized or decriminalized in Los Angeles or California. People both buying and selling sexual services will be held accountable to the full extent of the law. A first offense of prostitution or solicitation will result in up to six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. Subsequent offenses carry minimum jail sentences of up to 90 days, additional fines, and probation. Aggravating factors include engaging in prostitution near a residence or in a car.

Parents Protest Unbridled Prostitution Taking Place Near High School

Despite the fact that prostitution is illegal in Los Angeles, it is practiced in a shockingly public manner in some areas – to the extent that parents of public school students are being forced to protest. On June 15, 2022, it was reported that parents of students at a South LA school were protesting at City Hall in an attempt to bring attention to the number of prostitutes active near the campus.

Some parents have complained that children as young as 6 see half-naked women on their way to school on an almost daily basis on South Figueroa Street. This shows those police officers are fairly lenient when it comes to actually enforcing prostitution laws in Los Angeles – at least in certain areas. This is despite the fact that the LAPD has launched numerous initiatives – including a sex trafficking task force specifically geared toward patrolling Figueroa Street.

California Gets Rid of So-Called “Loitering for Prostitution” Law

In July of 2022, it was reported that the State of California was softening its stance against prostitution – at least to some degree – with the passing of the so-called “loitering for prostitution” law. This law previously allowed police to make arrests purely based on someone’s appearance rather than their actual actions.

If someone acted like or looked like they intended to engage in sex work, police had the power to take them into custody or detain them. Of course, in today’s world a vast range of people could be mistaken for prostitutes based purely on the subjective perceptions of police officers. Police no longer have this power in Los Angeles – although the legislation makes it clear that the changes do not represent decriminalization or legalization of prostitution.

Almost 20 People were Arrested in Los Angeles for Soliciting Prostitution

When police do decide to make prostitution arrests in Los Angeles, they typically do so in a coordinated strike. This occurred in September 2022 when almost 20 defendants were arrested on suspicion of soliciting prostitution in Los Angeles. Undercover officers posed as prostitutes in this operation and successfully caught 20 people attempting to solicit prostitution. One of these individuals was a registered sex offender who was wearing a GPS ankle monitor while on parole. This individual faced especially serious consequences for obvious reasons. It should be noted that the other 18 defendants were booked and then immediately released on citations – highlighting the somewhat laissez-faire attitude that the authorities have toward prostitution.

Where Can I Find a Qualified Criminal Defense Attorney in Los Angeles?

If you are facing crimes that involve sex work in Los Angeles, you should get in touch with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even though sex workers carry out their work in public and seemingly without fear of legal action, this does not mean that prostitution is legal in California. You still face considerable consequences for engaging in these crimes, and you should do your best to fight for your rights effectively. Book a consultation with Kosnett Law Firm, and you can do just that. With our help, you can get started with an effective defense strategy right away. Call (310) 445-5900 our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for more legal help.

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