Recently, the Los Angeles City Council has begun considering sending letters to the homes of men who solicit prostitutes, hoping that wives, mothers and girlfriends will find them. The plan would involve the use of automatic license plate readers which would be set up in areas that have a lot of prostitution.

Civil liberties groups are slamming the idea, claiming that the city is overstepping their bounds by interfering in people’s personal lives. The city is responding that, those who are not in the area to solicit prostitution have nothing to fear. If the city council decides to start issuing the letters, they wouldn’t be the first to do so. Other cities have already enacted similar programs, though there’s little data to determine whether it’s working to discourage men from soliciting prostitution or not.

California Penal Code 647(b) PC covers California’s prostitution laws. Most of the offenses related to prostitution are misdemeanors, resulting in penalties which include up to 6-months in county jail and/or fines of up to $1,000. Additionally, if a car is used in the solicitation of prostitution, the defendant faces having their license suspended for up to 30 days, or restricted for up to 6-months.

It’s also possible, though rare, that a judge can impose that a defendant register as a sex offender. This penalty is usually reserved for individuals who engage in prostitution “as the result of sexual compulsion or for sexual gratification.” This penalty is used so rarely because it is by far the most damning punishment. Once an individual is a registered sex offender in California, it’s for life, and their details will be listed on websites that are available for public view.