New Law Prohibits Police from Using Condoms As Evidence of Sex Work

The law aims to protect sex workers

New Law Prohibits Police from Using Condoms As Evidence of Sex Work

Prostitution is illegal in California, along with related acts, such as solicitation. Under state law, it is a misdemeanor offense to pay or accept money in exchange for sex, to offer to engage in act of prostitution or to agree to engage in an act of prostitution. For a first offense, this crime is punishable by up to six months in county jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Repeat offenses will result in significantly harsher penalties.

Yet while prostitution and solicitation are against the law in California — as they are in most states in the country — that does not mean that adults who choose to engage in these activities should be unsafe. Sex workers are often placed in vulnerable positions, and as a result, experience high rates of assault, rape, robbery and kidnapping. Many individuals then are reluctant to turn to law enforcement for help because they fear being arrested for engaging in prostitution.

To combat these risks, Governor Gavin Newsom recently signed Senate Bill 233 (SB 233) into law. Introduced by Senator Scott Wiener, a Democrat from San Francisco, it offers a number of protections to sex workers. First, it prohibits the introduction of condoms as evidence when prosecuting someone for sex work. In other words, the fact that a person had condoms on them cannot be used to establish that they were engaged in prostitution. Second, it protects sex workers from arrest when they report rape and other serious felonies. This law has the effect of (1) allowing sex workers to protect themselves from sexually transmitted disease without fear that doing so will be evidence that they are committing a crime; and (2) allowing sex workers to seek help when they are victims of violent crime.

According to a sex crimes defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA, a prosecutor must prove two elements in order to convict a person of prosecution:

  • He or she willfully engaged in sexual intercourse or a lewd act with someone;
  • In exchange for money or other compensation (such as drugs)

To prove a charge of soliciting prostitution, a prosecutor must demonstrate that an individual requested that another person engage in an act of prostitution, and that he or she intended to engage in an act of prostitution with the other person.

For solicitation case, proof of intent is necessary to convict a suspect. This can be shown in a number of ways, such as through an offer to pay money. Under the new law, however, the fact that a person has condoms on them cannot be used as proof of intent to engage in an act of prostitution.

These types of cases can be challenging, as anyone charged with prostitution or solicitation may be embarrassed or simply want the case to go away. However, a skilled sex crimes defense lawyer Los Angeles, CA can work to defend you against a prostitution or solicitation charge by putting together a strong factual and/or legal defense.

The Chambers Law Firm is experienced at handling a range of cases, including ones involving prostitution. Contact us today at 714-760-4088 or to schedule a free initial consultation.

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