Prostitution, pimping, and pandering are crimes under Georgia law. These offenses carry enhanced penalties under specified circumstances, particularly when minors are involved. In some situations, convicted persons must register as sex offenders.
The crimes of prostitution, pimping, and pandering are closely related, but refer to separate conduct.
Prostitution consists of performing, or offering or agreeing to perform a sexual act for anything of value. The act itself need not have taken place, nor must the money (or other valuable thing) have actually been delivered. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-9.)
Pimping occurs when someone:
Pandering involves either
For example, someone who tries to persuade a young woman to have sex with men for money so that the two can share in the proceeds has committed pandering. So has someone who hosts a “party” with young women in attendance with the goal of convincing them to become prostitutes.
It is also a distinct crime to keep a place of prostitution—that is, to allow the use of one’s property for prostitution. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-10.)
Prostitution itself is a misdemeanor in Georgia. Pimping, pandering, and keeping a place of prostitution are “high and aggravated” misdemeanors unless certain, additional circumstances are present, in which case they become felonies. Additional consequences to jail time may also apply. These consequences and aggravating circumstances are described below. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-13.)
Those convicted of pandering will have their convictions, along with their addresses and identifying photographs, published in the county where the offense occurred. If someone convicted of pandering receives probation, he or she must submit to testing for sexually transmitted diseases and consent to the results being released to his or her spouse, if any. (Ga. Code Ann. § § 16-6-13, 16-6-13.1.)
If someone commits pandering by compulsion—using duress or coercion to cause a person to perform an act of prostitution—the offense is a felony, and the punishment will be between one and 10 years’ imprisonment. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-14.)
Any proceeds or money involved in any act of pimping where the person performing an act of prostitution is under age 18 must be forfeited to the government. Furthermore, a vehicle used in the course of pimping a minor is in some circumstances also subject to forfeiture. (Ga. Code Ann. § § 16-6-13.2, 16-6-13.3.)
Pimping, pandering, and keeping a place of prostitution become felonies when the people participating in the underlying prostitution are under 18 years of age. If someone between 16 and 18 years old is involved, the punishment is a minimum of five years and a maximum of 20 years in prison, in addition to a fine between $2,500 and $10,000. If anyone under age 16 is involved, the punishment ranges between 10 and 30 years in prison, with a maximum fine of $100,000. Regardless of the participants’ ages, the fines increase by $2,500 if any of these offenses take place within 1,000 feet of a school, playground, children’s recreation center, or place of worship. (Ga. Code Ann. § 16-6-13.)
Prostitution-related crimes may also trigger a lifelong duty to register with the government. For example, felony convictions for soliciting a minor to engage in sexual conduct or to practice prostitution require registration. Registrants must provide a variety of personal information to the sheriff of the county in which they live, and must submit to the local sheriff within 72 hours of each birthday to be photographed and fingerprinted. Failure to abide by registration requirements is a felony punished by anywhere from one to 30 years’ imprisonment. The list of registered sexual offenders is publicly accessible. (Ga. Code Ann. § 42-1-12.)
If you have been charged with any of the offenses described here, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney in your area. Such a person will be familiar with the law and how cases like yours are handled and evaluated by the prosecutors, police, and judges in your courthouse. Only someone with this first-hand knowledge can adequately advise you of the viability of any defenses you might have, your ability to negotiate a lesser charge or even a dismissal, and your chances at trial.