Persuading another person to visit a house of prostitution (brothel), with the intent that the person persuaded actually engages in prostitution services, or referring a person to a prostitute (capping for prostitution), is a crime in California (PC 318).
Information on persuading or referring another person to visit a house of prostitution is found in the California penal code at section 318 (PC318). This summary covers the law, penalties, and common defenses related to PC 318. For further information, contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys for a free consultation.
PC 318 Law
Per PC 318, “Whoever, through invitation or device, prevails upon any person to visit any room, building, or other places kept for the purpose of illegal gambling or prostitution, is guilty of a misdemeanor… (PC 318 Abbrev.).
Prostitution Defined: Prostitution is generally defined as sexual services for money or other consideration (i.e., services, trade, release of debt, etc.) (PC 647(b)). It is a crime to engage in prostitution, solicit prostitution, or agree to prostitution (PC 647(b)). For further information and definition, see PC 647(b)).
House of Prostitution: A “house of prostitution” is a room or building where prostitution services regularly occur with the consent of the owner or landlord of the room or building. This is usually a legitimate-seeming business in some respects and illegitimate in other respects, such as a legal massage parlor where the masseuses work as prostitutes, a legal strip club where the strippers offer prostitution services in the club with the knowledge and consent of the strip club's owner. For further information and definition, see PC 315.
Invitation or Device: By “invitation of device” means by invitation or ‘scheme or trick.’ For example, a person who tricks another person into visiting a house of prostitution, for the purpose of enticing that person into engaging in prostitution services, could be in violation of penal code 318.
Prevails Upon: "Prevails upon" means to persuade someone to do something that they do not want to do. For example, a person who incessantly tries to convince another person to visit a house of prostitution, is probably guilty of penal code 318.
Intent Required: For the district attorney to prove that the defendant is guilty of PC 318, the district attorney will need to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant intended for another person to engage in sexual conduct with a prostitute.
Example: David encourages Sam to visit a strip club where prostitution services regularly occur. David is unaware that the legitimate-seeming strip club is actually a front for illegal prostitution. Result: David is not guilty of PC 318 because he never intended for Sam to engage in prostitution with prostitutes at the strip club.
Example II: David convinces his friend Sam to go with David to a known brothel, but David only convinces Sam to go to the brothel because David himself wants to engage in sexual services with a prostitute and David does not want to go to the house of prostitution alone. David does not want Sam to engage with a prostitute at the brothel. Result: David should not be found guilty of PC 318 because he did not intend for Sam to engage with prostitutes at the brothel.
Note: Persuading another person to visit a house of prostitution is similar to the crime of pandering. Pandering occurs where a person encourages another person to become a prostitute, as opposed to persuading a person to visit with a prostitute. For further distinction, see pimping (PC 266h), pandering (PC 266i), and prostitution (PC 647(b)).
Capping for Prostitution: "Capping for prostitution" occurs when a person receives a benefit for referring another person to a prostitute or house of prostitution (i.e., soliciting for prostitution). PC 318 may be charged in these situations because the defendant is clearly intending to encourage others to visit with prostitutes, or a house of prostitution, for the purpose of engaging in sexual services with a prostitute.
Example: David receives a ten percent kickback for every "client" he refers to a brothel. The brothel owner keeps track of the David's referrals when the customer arrives at the brothel and indicates how he became aware of the brothel. Result: David may be charged with capping for prostitution (paid referrals for prostitutes or brothels).
PC 318 Penalties
Jail Sentence: PC 318 is classified as a misdemeanor. If found guilty of PC 318, the defendant could face up to six months in a local county jail.
Probation Sentence: A probation sentence is a period of supervision, as opposed to a jail sentence. A probation sentence is allowed in PC 318 cases, but a probation sentence is not guaranteed.
Whether the defendant receives a probation sentence after a penal code 318 conviction depends on the facts and circumstances of each case, including the defendant’s criminal history, the level of sophistication involved in the offense, the harm caused, if any, to any third person, the terms of any negotiated plea bargain between the defendant and the district attorney (or court), and more.
Note: A probation sentence for PC 318 crimes is called “informal” probation, or “summary” probation, which means that the defendant is not monitored by a probation officer. Instead, the misdemeanor probation sentence is monitored by the court. Terms of probation in PC 318 cases generally include ‘stay out of trouble during probation,’ pay fines and fees, stay away from certain locations, and more. For more information, see Probation Sentence for Sex Crimes.
Work Release: A jail sentence, ordered after a non-probation sentence or a probation sentence, may usually be served alternatively on work release in PC 318 cases. Work release is a type of manual labor where the defendant is ordered to pick up trash around county jails or local highways.
Example: David is convicted of PC 318 after a plea bargain. He is placed on one year probation with the following terms: 1) stay out trouble (no misdemeanor or felony arrests during probation), 2) stay away from certain locations, 3) pay court fees, and 4) serve ten days in the county jail. Result: David may likely serve the ten days of jail alternatively on a work release program, as opposed to serving those days in an actual jail.
Sex Offender Registration: Sex offender registration is not required in PC 318 cases; however, if the judge finds that the defendant committed his or her crime out of an uncontrollable sexual desire related to the crime, then the judge may order sex offender registration (PC 290.006).
Addition Penalties: In addition to possible jail, probation, and fines, if the defendant is found guilty of persuading another person to visit a house of prostitution (or illegal gambling hall), the defendant may suffer other direct and indirect penalties, including negative consequences with immigration status, military service status, or professional licensing status. The defendant may also face civil lawsuits, lost employment or living opportunities, violation of probation or parole consequences, and more.
PC 318 Common Defenses
Common defenses related to the crime of persuading a person to visit a house of prostitution (or illegal gambling hall), including statute of limitations (one year from the date of alleged offense), reasonable mistake of fact as to the true nature of the illegal acts occurring in the room or building, coerced confessions, lack of proper Miranda warnings, duress, insufficient evidence, entrapment, and more.
For further information on common defenses to sex crimes, including PC 318 allegations, see Defense to Sex Crimes.
For more information on the crime of persuading another person to visit a house of prostitution, or capping for prostitution (PC 318), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys today for a free consultation.
Our award-winning sex crimes criminal defense attorneys have successfully helped hundreds of defendants accused misdemeanor or felony sex crimes, including lewd and lascivious act with a child under fourteen (PC 288(a)), possession of child pornography (PC 311.11), statutory rape (PC 261.5), engage in prostitution (PC 647(b)), oral copulation (PC 287), and more. Call today!