Keeping a house of prostitution (ill fame)
California Penal Code 315
In California, it is illegal to keep or reside in a house of prostitution. A house of prostitution is also known as a house of ill fame, or ill repute. Information on the crime of keeping a house of prostitution or ill repute may be found at penal code section 315.
Prostitution is a crime in California and is defined as sexual services for compensation or other benefit (PC 647(b)).
A house, for purposes of the crime of keeping a house of prostitution, does not have to be an actual house. A house can be just about any building, such as a massage parlor, a strip club, or a motel (PC 315).
To keep a house of prostitution means to operate or manage a business where prostitutes are working, such as a brothel, strip club, or massage parlor. In some cases, a defendant can keep a house of prostitution while also working as a prostitute in the same house.
The law of PC 315
Every person who keeps a house of ill fame in this state, resorted to for the purposes of prostitution or lewdness, or who willfully reside in such house, is guilty of keeping a house of ill fame (prostitution). in all prosecutions for keeping or resorting to such a house the reputation of the house may be received as competent evidence of the character of the house, the purpose for which it is kept or used, and the character of the women inhabiting or resorting to it (PC 315).
To prove that the defendant is keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the district attorney will need to prove that the defendant:
- Willfully maintained, or is residing in, a place where prostitution occurs, and
- That at the time the house or building was used for prostitution the defendant knew that prostitution was occurring (PC 315).
Common defenses to PC 315 crimes
- Police Misconduct & Miranda Violations: For example, evidence obtained by warrantless searches or seizures, coerced confessions, or confessions that are received in violation of the defendant's Miranda rights, may be thrown out of the prosecution's case.
- Insufficient evidence: If the evidence is weak to prove that the defendant knew that prostitution was occurring on the premises, or that the defendant was the person who actually operated the house, then the defendant may be entitled to a dismissal of the charges.
- Entrapment Defense: Entrapment occurs when the police encourage or promote a crime by way of their overbearing conduct. For example, if a police officer entices a person to perform prostitution services while receiving a massage, the police officer may have entrapped defendant. Examples of entrapment include flattery or coaxing by an officer to a defendant to commit a crime. It can also include repeated or insistent requests, or even an appeal to sympathy or friendship to commit a crime. The conduct of the officers is the primary focus on an entrapment defense. lf the conduct of the officers would cause a normally law-abiding citizen to commit a crime then the defendant may have been entrapped.
- Statute of Limitations: The statute of limitations is a law (a statute) that limits the amount of time (limitations) that prosecutors otherwise have to file criminal claims against defendants. For PC 315 crimes the limitations is one year from the date of incident.
- Jury Nullification: Jury nullification in a PC 315 case occurs when the jury, or any individual juror, believes beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, but nevertheless, the jury, or a juror, votes not guilty. This occurs when a juror believes that the crime of keeping a house of prostitution is not morally wrong or that the defendant should not be punished for some reason.
Sentence and punishment for PC 315 crimes
Red light abatement law: California has a Red Light Abatement Law, which allows for special penalties against defendants upon any conviction of keeping a house of prostitutes. Penalties include: Injunction against conducting business in the establishment where the prostitution occurred and forced sale of the business by the government.
Jail: PC 315 is classified as a misdemeanor. If convicted of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame the defendant may face up to 180 days in county jail. Probation with work release or electronic monitoring (house arrest) may be allowed in some cases.
Fines: The penalty fine for a first time conviction of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, may be up to $1,000.00. This amount does not include any penalty associated with Red Light Abatement Law penalties.
Probation: If convicted of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the defendant may be placed on probation for up to three years. The probation is court probation, also known as summary or informal probation. Probation terms for PC 315 convictions usually include restraining orders among other penalties.
Massage Therapist License: If convicted of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the defendant may lose his or her massage therapist license or business license (GC 51032 & CCR Title 16);
Immigration Consequences: If convicted of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, a non-U.S. Citizen defendant could face possible loss of immigration status, including deportation from the United States, denial of re-entry to the U.S., loss of work visa, or loss of permanent residence status.
Professional License: If convicted of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, the defendant will likely face a loss, suspension, or revocation of his or her professional or occupational license. This includes any professional license issued by a California Bar, Board, or Commission. (i.e. doctors, dentists, nurses, therapist, teachers, cosmetologists, etc.
In sum, if found guilty of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame (ill repute) under PC 315 the government may take and sell the business that was used to support prostitution and the defendant may be made to pay the expense of any government takeover of the business.
Prostitution defense attorneys
If you are charged with any prostitution crime, including PC 315 keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame, PC 647(b) agree to, engage in, or solicit prostitution, or PC 653.22(a) loiter with intent to commit prostitution, contact our prostitution defense attorneys today for a free consultation.
Our prostitution attorneys have successfully defended hundreds of prostitution crimes, including charges of keeping a house of prostitution or ill fame (PC 315).
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