The Law School Authority

People v. Lauria Case Brief

Summary of People v. Lauria, California Court of Appeal, Second District, 1967

Facts:  Defendant owned a phone answering company and 3 of his clients were well known prostitutes.  The defendant was aware of the prostitutes and knew that they were using his answering service to take messages from potential customers.  Defendant and the prostitutes were charged with conspiracy to commit prostitution.  The trial court set aside the indictment and People appeal.

Issue: Was the defendant guilty of conspiracy under the given facts?

Holding: No

Rationale: In order to establish criminal liability for a supplier, both the elements of knowledge of the illegal use of the goods or services and the element of intent to further that use must be present.  Intent to further that use has been established is some cases: e.g. 1 case where hotel owner charged higher prices to prostitutes, 1 case where there was no legitimate use of the goods and only possible use was for illegal matters, 1 case where the illegal customers of a business outnumbered the legal customers.  In the current case, no such facts are available.  D treated the 3 prostitutes just like his other customers.  Furthermore, prostitution is not a severe crime that requires D to report it to the police.  Therefore, D can’t be held liable for conspiracy to commit prostitution.

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