Los Angeles Prostitution Diversion Program Now Available at Van Nuys Courthouse

Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer

As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the Office of the Los Angeles City Attorney and the Los Angeles Police Department are stepping up prostitution enforcement at sections of Lankershim Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard, areas known for a high volume of prostitution activity. Expect arrests and prosecutions for violations of California Penal Code 647(b) (soliciting or agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution) and California Penal Code Section 653.22 (loitering with intent to commit prostitution) to dramatically increase.

However, along with the increase, the Los Angeles City Attorney announced that the “Prostitution Diversion Program” previously only available at the East Los Angeles Courthouse and some Long Beach Courthouse courtrooms, will now be available at the Van Nuys Courthouse for first time offenders with no other criminal record. This means that in exchange for a plea of guilty or no contest to a prostitution related charge, defendants will enter a one day diversion program. This program consists of a “john school” for those accused of seeking prostitution services, and a diversion program through the Mary Magdelene House for those accused of agreeing to engage in an act of prostitution.

Upon successful completion of the program, and no further arrests for a one year period, the case will be dismissed and the defendant can honestly answer that he or she has never been convicted of a crime. This is good news for some defendants, although it may not be as helpful for those dealing with professional license issues or immigration consequences, where an admission, even without a conviction, to a prostitution offense, could lead to problems. On balance, it is nice to see this program finally expanded to the Van Nuys Courthouse. Next? Let’s hope that the City Attorney’s Office sees fit to expand the program to the Airport Courthouse as well.

But there’s bad news too. The bad news is that the City Attorney’s Office and the LAPD have also promised to step up the impounding of vehicles that are used in connection with soliciting and engaging in prostitution pursuant to California Vehicle Code 22659.5. In other words, in conjunction with a local city ordinance, accused johns can have their cars seized for up to 30 days. Sure, there’s an appeal process, but it is costly and time consuming.

If you or a loved one is facing a prostitution related offense at the Van Nuys Courthouse or anywhere in the City of Los Angeles, do not hesitate to contact the Law Offices of Jerod Gunsberg at (323) 633-3423 or get in touch via the secure contact form on this page.

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