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The line between escorts and prostitution is easily blurred. Hiring escorts in California is perfectly legal—as long neither party pays for sex. Otherwise, you could face prostitution charges.

Your reputation could be ruined if you get convicted of prostitution charges. Although they are misdemeanor charges, a conviction for prostitution can ruin your life.

That’s why you need a tough and aggressive, yet compassionate, law firm to defend you. At the Law Offices of Kerry L. Armstrong, APLC, our sex crimes lawyers will fight tooth and nail so you get the best possible outcome.

Can I Hire an Escort in California? 

Police conduct undercover stings all the time trying to catch people soliciting prostitutes or offering sex for money. 

Police mistakenly arrest people who pay for companionship—rather than sex—in these sting operations. Performing escort services and performing a sex act for money are two different things. 

Calling yourself an escort does not automatically make you one. There are rules escorts in California must follow.

The San Diego Municipal Code allows people to work as escorts as long as they are duly licensed through the police department. 

Therefore, performing escort services without a valid permit is a violation of a San Diego municipal code.

Is Sex with Escorts in California Legal?

Yes, provided that the parties do not exchange anything of value for sex and both knowingly consent to have sex. Conversely, offering something of value in exchange for engaging in a sexual or lewd act is a crime. 

Escorts cannot perform any sexual or lewd act for a fee under California’s prostitution law. Under Penal Code 647(b), it is a misdemeanor to solicit, agree to engage in, or engage in prostitution for a fee.

Under this section, prostitution includes lewd acts as well. Lewd acts may involve:

  • Exposing genitalia;
  • Touching another in a sexually suggestive manner;
  • Being touched in a sexually suggestive manner; or
  • Asking other people to touch one another in a sexual way.

Also, a lewd act is one that arouses or sexually gratifies another person. Accordingly, neither party needs to be undressed to engage in lewd conduct as long as someone intended to experience sexual gratification.

Penalties for Performing Unlawful Escort Services in California

A violation of the San Diego municipal code for running an escort service without a permit is a misdemeanor.

Additionally, solicitation of a prostitute or engaging in prostitution is a misdemeanor under state law. Both crimes carry the possibility of going to jail for six months and paying a fine of no more than $1,000.

However, the penalties can become much more severe if the accused has prior offenses or aggravating factors are present. Then the crime could turn into a felony.

Act Now to Protect Your Rights

Most people assume an escort and a prostitute are the same. Even the police can make that mistake. If you hired an escort or are an escort and now have prostitution charges, the Law Offices of Kerry. L. Armstrong, APLC, can help.

Contact us today to find out how Kerry—who is certified by the California bar as a criminal law specialist—and his team can help you move on with your life and avoid the harsh consequences of hiring an escort in California.

Author Photo

Kerry L. Armstrong


Attorney Kerry Armstrong opened up his law firm in June 2007. Mr. Armstrong attended Thomas Jefferson School of Law, San Diego, California, and received his B.S. from Middle Tennessee State University. Kerry L. Armstrong became certified by the State Bar of California’s Board of Legal Specialization for criminal law in August 2020, making him one of the few criminal defense attorneys with a criminal law legal specialization certificate in San Diego County.  Between 2014 – 2019, Mr. Armstrong was selected for inclusion in the California Super Lawyers list, an honor only awarded to 5% of the nation’s attorneys.

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