You would think that law enforcement officers would have better crimes to pursue in tax payer funded “sting” operations than prostitution, but not in the OC. Recently, there have been several sting operations in Newport Beach. These have resulted in the arrests of business professionals and others who are accused of soliciting undercover officers for prostitution. These sting operations usually involve the following:
- The cops place a fake ad in publications such as Backpages, Craigs List or OC Weekly;
- The ad has a designated phone number for the johns to call;
- Cops rent a hotel room where the undercover female officer agrees to meet the john;
- They also rent an additional room down the hallway where the entire law enforcement gang sets up their sting operation(devices to monitor recordings, area to book the johns they arrest, table to eat their donuts on).
After the sting gang sets up shop, which usually includes close to 10 law enforcement officers, they are ready to catch the johns.
Undercover Prostitution Sting – “Prostitute” Receives a Call
When a john calls the undercover female officer at the number placed in the ad, thinking he is talking to a real prostitute, she will try to get the john to tell her what he is wanting to do and for how much he is willing to pay. Once an agreement is reached, she will give him directions to the hotel where the sting is set up. One of the red flags that the johns don’t catch on to is the female officer is usually really pushy to get the agreement upfront, which is necessary for being charged with the prostitution crime.
Another red flag is when the female undercover officer asks the john what car he is driving. Why would that matter if the john is going to a specific room? It matters because the sting gang hiding in another room will be looking out for the john to show up. Unfortunately, the johns fall for this every time and provide their car description. Once the sting gang is on alert that the john has arrived, they usually go hide in the closet or bathroom of the undercover female officer’s room, so they can jump out with guns pointed and arrest the john who thought he was going to be leaving the hotel with a “happy ending”.
Consequences of Falling for the Fake Ad for Prostitution
Once the arrest occurs, the john is then faced with the consequences of his actions. These consequences can be devastating, especially when the john is married with children. The john now has to deal with the criminal court process and the embarrassment that goes along with being in court for this type of criminal charge. However, depending on the specifics that were employed during the sting operation, there may be a legal defense to the embarrassing allegation. California Penal Code section 647(b) requires the District Attorney to prove the following:
- The defendant agreed to engage in an act of prostitution with someone else;
- The defendant intended to engage in an act of prostitution with that person ; AND
- In addition to agreeing, the defendant did something to further the commission of an act of prostitution.
The agreement is what may be very vague and usually ripe for a defense attack on this required element. For example, the undercover female officers that are communicating with the johns will use coded language, where it is not entirely clear what the john was agreeing to. If the original ad was for “massage”, and coded language was used, the john could have believed that he was getting a massage. The crime of prostitution is a “specific intent” crime, and the prosecutor has the burden of proving the john specifically intended to engage in an act of prostitution in exchange for money. Without all of the required elements being proved beyond a reasonable doubt, there would be no prostitution conviction.
For further assistance in defending a prostitution charge, contact Orange County Criminal Lawyer Karren Kenney for assistance at (855) 505-5588.