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CA Loitering Law Has Led to Increase in Prostitution Cases

In recent years, there has been a nationwide push for criminal justice reform and an increased focus on decriminalizing certain non-violent offenses. One such example is the recent change in California state law, which decriminalizes loitering with the intent to commit prostitution. While the intentions behind this law were to reduce the burden on the criminal justice system and promote social equity, it appears to have had some unintended consequences.

Understanding the New Law

The new California law, which went into effect on January 1, 2023, repeals the previous statute that made loitering with the intent to commit prostitution a misdemeanor offense. Advocates of the change argue that the old law unfairly targeted marginalized communities, particularly women of color and transgender individuals, who were often profiled and arrested for simply being in public spaces.

The decriminalization of loitering is intended to be a step towards a more equitable justice system and to prevent the unnecessary criminalization of vulnerable populations. However, recent reports have indicated that the change in law may have led to an increase in prostitution throughout the state.

The Impact on Prostitution

According to a recent article, law enforcement agencies across California have reported a noticeable uptick in prostitution activity since the new law went into effect. Police officers are now limited in their ability to intervene in cases of suspected prostitution, as they can no longer arrest individuals for loitering with the intent to commit the crime.

This limitation has seemingly emboldened those involved in the sex trade, as they can now engage in solicitation activities without fear of arrest for loitering. The result has been a proliferation of street-level prostitution, with both sex workers and their clients feeling more secure in conducting their transactions in public.

A Troubled History

According to the Public Policy Institute of California Public Policy Institute of California, California is a major hub for human trafficking due to its large population, international borders, and global trade connections. The state's diverse economy and industries, such as agriculture, hospitality, and domestic work, attract traffickers looking to exploit vulnerable individuals.

The victims of human trafficking often suffer from severe abuse, forced labor, and sexual exploitation. The PPIC highlights the importance of raising awareness, strengthening laws, and providing support services to combat human trafficking effectively. Additionally, the organization emphasizes the need for cooperation among law enforcement, government agencies, nonprofits, and community members to address this complex issue and protect victims' rights.

Balancing Civil Liberties and Public Safety

The increase in prostitution activity raises important questions about the balance between protecting civil liberties and ensuring public safety. While the decriminalization of loitering was intended to promote social equity and reduce the criminalization of vulnerable populations, it appears to have had the unintended side effect of enabling the sex trade to operate more openly.

This situation highlights the complexities of criminal justice reform and the need for a nuanced approach when implementing policy changes. In order to address the issue, lawmakers and law enforcement agencies must work together to find a solution that both respects individual rights and protects communities from the potential negative impacts of increased prostitution.


The decriminalization of loitering with the intent to commit prostitution in California was enacted with good intentions, but its unintended consequences have led to a rise in prostitution rates across the state. As lawmakers and law enforcement officials grapple with this new reality, it is essential to strike a balance between promoting social equity and ensuring public safety. This challenge emphasizes the importance of careful consideration and collaboration when pursuing criminal justice reform initiatives.

For those accused of prostitution, it is crucial that they consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Corrigan Welbourn Stokke, APLC can provide the legal counsel you need to protect your rights in and outside of the court. Contact our firm today to learn more.