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Escorting vs. Prostitution: What’s the Difference?

Prostitution, described as exchanging sexual conduct for anything of value, is illegal in California. Escorting, exchanging something of value for a date or someone’s time, is not illegal. Understanding the differences between escorting and prostitution can prevent legal misunderstandings or even criminal charges.

Escorting in California

Under the law, an escort is very different than a prostitute. An escort agrees to either accompany a client to a social event or provide entertainment in exchange for money. If an escort agrees to sexual conduct or even describes what sexual acts they might perform to their client, they could face the criminal charge of soliciting prostitution.

While escorting is legal in California, doing so requires a license. Escorting without a license is itself grounds for arrest. While license applications are easy to find, actually obtaining a license requires an extensive background check.

New Laws in California

Before July 2019, merely having condoms was considered circumstantial evidence for prostitution. That meant police might accuse a licensed escort of soliciting prostitution just because they had sexual protection on their person, regardless of the actual intent.

Now, thanks to a law passed by the California State Assembly, condoms cannot be a consideration when determining whether someone was furthering an act of prostitution.

Sexual Conduct With an Escort

Many wonder whether it’s illegal to have consensual sex with an escort in their personal time. After all, they argue, isn’t a licensed escort’s time their own once they are no longer working?

These questions should be explained on a case-by-case basis by an experienced sex crimes attorney. If the police believe there is probable cause that escort was hired to pursue sexual conduct at a later time, both the escort and their client could face criminal charges.

If you have questions about California sex crimes, you might want legal representation. If you’d like an experienced Newport Beach Criminal Defense Lawyer from Corrigan | Welbourn | Stokke, APLC to evaluate your case, please send us an email or call (949) 251-0330.