Pimping and Pandering Laws in California

In California, both pimping (making money off of prostitution) and pandering (facilitating or promoting prostitution) are crimes. Laws against pimping and pandering are generally aimed at third parties who benefit from the sale of sex, although they may also apply to “johns” and prostitutes.

For more general information on these types of laws, see Pimping and Pandering.

Prostitution

In California, a person commits the crime of prostitution (a type of disorderly conduct) by engaging in sexual contact in exchange for money, or agreeing to or offering to engage in sexual contact for money, and taking some act to further that agreement.

(Cal. Pen. Code § 647, subd. (b).)

For more information, see Prostitution Laws in California.

Felony Pimping and Pandering

Under California’s laws, a person commits the crime of felony pimping by living off of or making money from the earnings of a prostitute, or soliciting customers for a prostitute.

A person commits the crime of felony pandering by:

  • procuring another for the purpose of prostitution or to work in a house of prostitution
  • causing or encouraging (by threats, violence, or promises) another to engage in prostitution or work in a house of prostitution
  • causing another to come in or out of the state for purposes of prostitution, or
  • receiving or giving (or agree to receive or give) any money to procure a person for prostitution.

(Cal. Pen. Code § § 266h, 266i.)

For example, a person who is employed to find women to work as prostitutes or who encourages women to work as prostitutes could be convicted of felony pandering.

In California, it is also a crime to:

  • cause any woman to engage in prostitution by fraud or misrepresentation
  • take any person for prostitution without the person’s consent (or if the person’s consent is obtained by fraud or misrepresentation), or
  • force, cause, or permit your wife to work in a house of prostitution.

California also has a specific law against human trafficking (buying or selling people) for the purpose of prostitution.

(Cal. Pen. Code § § 266, 266a, 266e, 266f, 266g, 318.)

Misdemeanor Pimping and Pandering

In 1998, California enacted a new law against pimping and pandering, which punished these crimes as misdemeanors. Although the new law had some overlap with existing felony laws, it criminalized a broader range of conduct in order to make it easier to arrest, prosecute, and convict pimps who work on the street.

In California, a person commits the crime of misdemeanor pimping and pandering by:

  • directing, supervising, recruiting, or otherwise assisting another to engage in (or loiter for the purpose of) prostitution, or
  • collecting or receiving money earned from prostitution.

The following behavior can be considered evidence of misdemeanor pimping or pandering:

  • repeatedly communicating with a person who is engaged in prostitution
  • watching or monitoring a person who is engaged in prostitution
  • repeatedly engaging in conversations with people or stopping people (or trying to engage in conversation or stop people) who are passing by to solicit or arrange prostitution
  • circling an area in a car and attempting to stop people to solicit or arrange prostitution
  • receiving money from anyone engaged in prostitution
  • having been convicted of prostitution or a related crime within the past five years, or
  • engaging in any other behavior that indicates participation in any way in prostitution.

(Cal. Pen. Code § 653.23)

In California, a person also commits a misdemeanor by causing another to visit a place of prostitution.

(Cal. Pen. Code § 318.)

Child Prostitution

Felony pimping and pandering are punished more severely when the prostitute is under the age of 18.

Under California’s laws, it is also a crime to:

  • entice (or assist in enticing) an unmarried woman under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution, or
  • take a child from the child’s parent or guardian for the purpose of prostitution.

(Cal. Pen. Code § § 266, 266h, 267.)

Punishment

Felony pimping and pandering are punishable by two to six years’ imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000.

Taking a person for prostitution is punishable by imprisonment for 16 months to three years, and a fine of up to $2,000.

Causing your wife to work in a house of prostitution is punishable by two to four years’ imprisonment.

Human trafficking for the purpose of prostitution is punishable by 16 months to three years in prison.

Causing a woman to engage in prostitution by fraud and enticing a woman under the age of 18 to engage in prostitution are both punishable by up to one year in jail; or 16 months, two, or three years' imprisonment, and a fine of up to $2,000.

Pimping or pandering under section 653.23 is punishable by up to six months in a jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Causing another to visit a place of prostitution is punishable by up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $500.

Felony pimping and pandering are punishable by three to eight years’ imprisonment, as well as a fine of up to $5,000, if the minor is under the age of 15.

Taking a child from the child’s parents for the purpose of prostitution is punishable by imprisonment, and a fine of up to $22,000.

(Cal. Pen. Code § § 19, 266, 266a, 266e, 266g, 266h, 266i, 266k, 266, 318, 653.26, 1170.)

Sex offender registration

People convicted of felony pimping or pandering of a person under the age of 18, or taking a minor for the purposes of prostitution, are also required to register as sex offenders.

(Cal. Pen. Code § 290.)

Other consequences

A teacher who is licensed by the State Board of Education or the Commission on Teacher Credentialing and who is convicted of felony pimping or pandering (or a related felony) can have his or her teaching credentials revoked by both the state and county boards of education.

(Cal. Educ. Code § § 44424, 444435.)

Similar laws may apply to other jobs.

Getting Legal Advice and Counsel

If you are charged with pimping or pandering, you should contact an attorney immediately. A conviction could result in time in prison or jail, job loss, a hefty fine, and, in some circumstances, sex offender registration. Being required to register as a sex offender can have a lasting impact on your ability to find a place to live and work. An experienced California criminal defense attorney can tell you how your case is likely to be treated in court and help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you can achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

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