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Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution – Penal Code 653.22 PC

The Crime of Loitering With Intent To Commit Prostitution in California - PC 653.22

Under California Penal Code 653.22 PC, it's a crime to loiter in a public place with the intent to engage in prostitution. This means you can be arrested for just having the intent to solicit someone for prostitution, even if the sexual act never occurs.

Clearly, this statute is closely related, but distinct, from California Penal Code 647(b), solicitation of prostitution, also a misdemeanor offense.

Loitering for the Purpose of Prostitution – Penal Code 653.22 PC
Penal Code 653.22 PC makes it a crime to loiter in a public place in order to engage in prostitution, even if a sexual act never occurs.

Circumstantial evidence

The crucial factor of whether someone was actually “loitering” in a certain location with a specific intent to commit the crime of prostitution is a fact-based-case-by-case inquiry typically determined by circumstantial evidence.

Obviously, most people breaking the law won't verbally announce their intent explicitly, thus the prosecutor will normally rely on evidence that the:

  • circumstances of the loitering openly demonstrate that;
  • their purpose was to induce, entice, or solicit prostitution.

Penal Code 653.22 PC doesn't cover minors under 18 years old whose behavior would qualify as loitering for prostitution if they were an adult.

Minors who violate the circumstances under PC 653.22 will normally be considered a defendant of the juvenile court.

Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a more detailed review below.

What is the Definition of PC 653.22 Loitering for Prostitution?

Penal Code 653.22 PC defines the California sex crime of loitering with intent to commit prostitution:

  • It's unlawful for someone to loiter in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution. The “intent” is evidenced by a person acting in a manner and under circumstances that openly demonstrate their purpose is to induce, entice, or solicit prostitution, or procure another person to commit prostitution.

Examples of conduct to prove intent 

As you can see in the definition above, the statutory language provides examples of conduct that can be considered by law enforcement and prosecutors when deciding whether someone had the intent to commit a prostitution offense, such as:

What is the Definition of PC 653.22 Loitering for Prostitution?
Police and prosecutors will attempt to prove "intent" to commit prostitution by using a variety of common behaviors associated with prostitution.
  • repeatedly beckoning to drivers, or
  • contacting a pedestrian,
  • hailing or gesturing a motorist,
  • stopping or attempting to stop a vehicle,
  • engaging in conversations with passersby.

Any or all these factors might indicate solicitation for prostitution.

Prior prostitution conviction or activity 

Other factors that can be considered by law enforcement to prove intent to engage in prostitution is if:

  • defendant was convicted of a prostitution-related crime within the past 5 years, or
  • defendant engaged in any of the activity described above within the last six months

It should be noted that Penal Code 653.22 PC makes clear that the circumstances to prove unlawful intent listed in the statute not exclusive, rather they are especially relevant if they indicate prostitution activity.

What Factors Must Be Proven for a PC 653.22 Conviction?  

In order for the prosecutor to convict you of violating California Penal Code 653.22 PC, loitering for the purpose of prostitution, they have to prove all factors listed under CALCRIM 1156 Jury Instructions:

What Factors Must Be Proven for a PC 653.22 Conviction?
The prosecutor must prove a variety of different factors in order to convict you of PC 653.22 loitering for prostitution.
  • defendant was loitering,
  • while in a public place, and
  • had specific intent to commit prostitution.

“Loitering” is described as lingering around without a lawful purpose for being on the property, but rather to commit a crime if the opportunity occurs

A “public place” is described as any area is that is open and accessible to the general public, such as a:

  • street,
  • alley,
  • parking lot,
  • restaurant,
  • public park,
  • movie theatre.

Having an “intent to commit prostitution” is described as engaging in sexual activity in exchange for money of other forms of compensation.

What are the Penalties for Loitering for Prostitution?

Penal Code 653.22 PC, loitering for the purpose of engaging in a prostitution is a misdemeanor offense punishable by:

  • up to six months incarceration in a county jail,
  • a $1,000 fine plus penalty assessments, or both.

In most cases, a first-offender will not face any type of jail time, but the judge will consider all the factors for sentencing, such as their criminal record and status of probation or parole.

What Are the Related California Offenses?

Penal Code 266h PC – pimping

Penal Code 266i PC – pandering

Penal Code 647(a) PC – lewd conduct in public

Penal Code 647(b) PC – solicitation for prostitution

Penal Code 314 PC – indecent exposure

Penal Code 315 PC – keeping a house of prostitution

Penal Code 236.1 PC – human trafficking

Penal Code 415 PC – disturbing the peace

Penal Code 602 PC - trespassing

How Can I Fight PC 653.22 Loitering for Prostitution Charges?

If you were arrested for loitering for the purpose of prostitution in violation of California Penal Code 653.22 PC, our experienced Los Angeles criminal lawyers can use a variety of common defenses, including:

How Can I Fight PC 653.22 Loitering for Prostitution Charges?
Our sex crime lawyers can use a wide range of common defenses to fight your loitering for prostitution charges.
  • lack of intent,
  • insufficient evidence,
  • entrapment by police.

Lack of Intent 

We might be able to make a reasonable argument the prosecutor can't prove there was an actual “intent” to commit prostitution, assuming of course they were objectively loitering in the first place.

Recall from the elements of the crime above that the prosecutor must be able to prove the loitering was motivated by a desire to engage in a prostitution offense.

In the end, a jury must decide beyond a reasonable doubt the defendant was loitering in order induce, entice, or solicit a prostitute.


An entrapment defense approach can often be relevant in a PC 653.22 case. Entrapment occurs when police by their own conduct persuades a defendant to commit a crime which they would not have otherwise committed, but for law enforcement's intervention.

In other words, a defendant can't be held liable for criminal conduct that was mostly inspired by law enforcement. 

It should be noted, however, proving entrapment occurred will require a high burden because the prosecutor could make the argument the defendant would have engaged in the unlawful activity anyway without police involvement.

Criminal Defense for Loitering for Prostitution Charges

If you, or someone you know, was charged with loitering for the purpose of committing a prostitution offense in violation of Penal Code 653.22 PC, call our Los Angeles criminal defense attorneys for an initial consultation.

Criminal Defense for Loitering for Prostitution Charges in Los Angeles
Call our law firm to learn how we can help you.

Early intention into your case by our law firm can have a dramatic impact on the outcome. For example, through prefiling intervention, we might be able to negotiate with the prosecutor to avoid the formal filing of charges.

Eisner Gorin LLP is a top-ranked criminal defense law firm representing clients throughout Southern California, including LA County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino, Riverside, Long Beach, Pasadena, and the San Fernando Valley.

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