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Keeping a House for Prostitution Laws (PC 315) in California - IE-Criminal Defense

I. PC 315: Keeping a House for Prostitution Laws

Legal Definition: Every person who keeps a house of ill-fame in this state, resorted to for the purposes of prostitution or lewdness, or who willfully resides in such house… and in all prosecutions for keeping or resorting to such a house common repute may be received as competent evidence of the character of the house, the purpose for which it is kept or used, and the character of the women inhabiting or resorting to it.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 315, the prosecution must prove the following:

1. You willfully maintained, or are residing in, a place where prostitution occurs,


2. That at the time the house or building was used for prostitution you knew that prostitution was occurring in your home.

II. What does this mean?

A prostitute is a person who engages in sexual intercourse or any lewd act with another person in exchange for money or other compensation. A lewd act means physical contact of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person’s body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

This can also be referred to as having a house of “ill fame” or “ill refute”. A house, under this Penal Code, isn’t just the normal nomenclature of the word. A house can be just about any building, such as a massage parlor, a strip club, or a motel/hotel. 

To keep a house of prostitution means that you operate or manage a business where prostitutes are working. These can be things such as a brothel, strip club, or massage parlor. In some cases, a prostitute can also be the person charged with running a house of ill repute at the same time.

III. Penalties

A charge of PC 315 is a misdemeanor offense only. If you are convicted under this section, you could be sentenced to up to 180 days in County Jail. In addition, if you run a business, such as a massage parlor, you could be hit with an injunction that shuts down the legitimate aspect of your business. You could also lose your massage therapist license under a conviction for this section. You could also receive informal probation, and fines and fees up to $1000.

If convicted of PC 315, keeping a house of prostitution, or ill fame, you will likely face a loss, suspension, or revocation of your professional license. You could also face immigration consequences if you are a non-US Citizen living in the United States.

IV. Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Entrapment
  4. Violation of Rights
  5. False Accusations
  6. Coerced Confessions

A major aspect of defending a charge here is to claim you lacked knowledge that the person within your house or building was actually engaging in prostitution. This can be shown through circumstantial evidence, such as seeing your roommate coming home every night with a different person, receiving rent payments from them while they aren’t working, and other factors that should be obvious to you. However, a lack of knowledge would act as insufficient evidence to prove the charges against you.

Further, if you simply have an interest in engaging in prostitution, but police manipulate or direct you into taking it a step further by running a house of ill repute, the defense of Entrapment may be available to you. As with all defenses under Entrapment law, it requires more than mere passive input by police, but an overbearing encouragement that puts the criminal design in your mind. It can have been your idea, to begin with, the idea must originate with the police in order to use this defense.

V. Call Today

A conviction under the PC 315 case can have far-reaching punishments that are worse than simply jail time. Many professionals, such as doctors or even lawyers, could lose or have their licenses suspended for a conviction under this section. You could also lose your business or property to the government if found guilty under this section. Our PC 315 Ontario attorney has successfully defended numerous cases involving violations of PC 315 of keeping a house for prostitution. The initial consultation is free and we are available to answer your questions 24/7. Call the Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-939-7126! Located in Ontario, CA.

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