Keeping a House of Prostitution
1. Definition and Elements of the Crime
Under California law it is illegal to run a motel, hotel, massage parlor or just about any other business that allows for prostitutes to engage in the sale of sexual services. Although under California Penal Code Section 315 PC the language that is used refers to a “house” of prostitution, cases have held that virtually any establishment that allows prostitutes to engage in the sale of sexual services fulfills this requirement.
To prove that a defendant is guilty of keeping a house of prostitution, a prosecutor must be able to establish the following required elements:
- The defendant willfully maintained, or is residing in, a place where prostitution occurs;
- At the time the defendant was residing at the location the building was being used for prostitution; AND
- The defendant had knowledge that the building in which they resided in/conducted business in was being used for prostitution.
2. Related Offenses
Other similar or related offenses include:
- Prostitution – California Penal Code Section 647 (b) PC
- Pimping – California Penal Code Section 266h PC
- Lewd Conduct – California Penal Code Section 647 (a) PC
- Human Trafficking – California Penal Code Section 236.1 PC
3. Examples of Keeping a House of Prostitution
An owner of a motel allows known prostitutes to rent rooms at a discounted rate so they can engage in the sale of sexual services. The motel owner who is not promoting the prostitutes sexual services but is only concerned about maximum occupancy is well aware that these prostitutes are engaging in sexual services based on the numerous companions they take to their rooms. In this example the motel owner can be charged and convicted of keeping a house of prostitution because he is maintaining a motel where prostitution occurs and is even giving a discounted rate to the prostitutes to ensure maximum occupancy. Additionally, based on the numerous companions that are seen entering the rooms with the prostitutes he is aware that the building is being used to conduct prostitution.
In another example, an owner of a spa employs numerous massage therapists to perform legitimate massage services to clients. However, unknown to the spa owner some of these massage therapists are engaging in the sale of sexual services in the massage rooms. In this example it is unlikely that the spa owner will be convicted of keeping a house of prostitution because he does not have the requisite knowledge that the spa is being used for prostitution.
4. Defenses to Keeping a House of Prostitution
One of the common defenses against keeping a house of prostitution is entrapment. Entrapment occurs when a person who would normally be law-abiding is persuaded into doing something illegal after repeated requests by law enforcement.
A conviction for keeping a house of prostitution can result in six months of county jail, fines of up to $1,000 and probation for up to three years.
6. Immigration Consequences for Keeping a House of Prostitution
For those who are not United States citizens, being convicted of keeping a house of prostitution may lead to deportation or denial of immigration relief. This is why contacting a skilled criminal defense attorney is so important for anyone who has been accused of, investigated or arrested for, or charged with keeping a house of prostitution.
7. Criminal Defense for Keeping a House of Prostitution
Keeping a house of prostitution is a criminal offense that can carry criminal penalties. If you or someone you know have been charged with keeping a house of prostitution, it is crucial that you speak with a reputable Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut is a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience. Mr. Kraut is highly respected by judges, district attorneys and law enforcement officers as a skilled litigator who possesses a strong understanding of the law.
For more information about keeping a house of prostitution, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.