In spite of what some fringe news outlets and political partisans have claimed, California has not “legalized child prostitution.” A claim of that nature should be obviously and patently false at first glance, but apparently in today’s media climate requires further explanation of the new Fresno Prostitution Law.
The new Fresno Prostitution Law is found in Senate Bill 1322. A more accurate description is that it decriminalizes prostitution for minors under the age of 18. Now, this only applies to the person accused of selling sex. Those who solicit minors or facilitate sex acts involving them are still subject to the same harsh penalties laid out in various Assembly and Senate bills.
The idea that this was an attempt by state lawmakers to legalize child prostitution is pure reprehensible spin. The purpose of the New Fresno Prostitution Law is to protect minors who are victims of sex trafficking. The vast majority of underage prostitution occurs because of coercion; the underage parties involved do not want to sell sex but are forced to by someone else, often through the use of violence and/or threats to withdraw their means of support. Under the former wording of the law, it was still possible for these sex trafficking victims to be hit with prostitution charges, something clearly unfair to them. The new bill not only removes this possibility, but increases the penalties for those who engage in underage sex trafficking.
This new Fresno Prostitution Law does not mean that if law enforcement learns of a minor selling sex, they have to sit on their hands. The act is still illegal, and they will still intervene as they always have. The only difference is that there is no possibility of charging or incarcerating the minor in question. Instead, the new Fresno Prostitution Law allows for them to be taken into protective custody temporarily if the officers feel the situation merits it, and also requires law enforcement to direct them to community resources that can help them.
Hammerschmidt Broughton is one of the area’s most experienced and successful criminal defense firms. If you are in need of a criminal defense attorney, feel free to contact us for a free review of your circumstances.