The Orange County Register recently reported that the city of Anaheim will begin publishing the names of men convicted of soliciting prostitution. This expands a policy recently implemented by the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. This was a terrible policy when the OC DA implemented it, and it’s still a terrible policy now that Anaheim is doing it.
Here’s how it works: anyone convicted of prostitution in a case handled by the Anaheim City Attorney or Orange County DA will have their name included on a list of known prostitution offenders. This will list will be made available on the internet and indexed by search engines. So if you’re convicted of soliciting prostitution and someone types your name into Google or any other search engine, your name will come up as a known prostitution offender.
It is inconceivable what benefits the public here. People who are convicted of solicitation of prostitution are usually put on informal probation. If probation is successfully completed, the case can be dismissed and set aside under Penal Code 1203.4. As we all know, information on the internet lives forever. Those convicted of a relatively minor misdemeanor offense, and who are not required to register as sex offenders, end up with the consequences following them around forever.
But what about deterrence? Wouldn’t knowing that you could end up on this list stop you from offending? As someone who defends those accused of soliciting prostitution, I can assure you that this is simply not true. For starters, the vast majority of those accused of soliciting prostitution are completely unaware of the consequences. Most people think it’s like getting a traffic ticket. Aside from the recent news coverage, there will be no ongoing effort to educate the public about the public internet shaming campaign.
Secondly, people engage in prostitution for a variety of reasons: intoxication, depression, a bad break up, social awkwardness, disability, or just bad judgment on a bad night. These people are not going to be even thinking about the potential long-term consequences.
So what can be done? Prostitution defense attorneys should advocate for exclusion from this shame list, just as they advocate for exclusion from the sex offender registry in applicable cases. Set cases for trial (these are usually good cases to defend at trial). Make the prosecutors work. Push back. This internet shaming is a bad trend that needs to be stopped before it gets out of hand.
If you or a loved one are accused of soliciting prostitution or any criminal offense in California, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Jerod Gunsberg at 323-633-3424 or via our confidential contact form.