Law enforcement often places a special emphasis on prostitution investigations, seeking to round up prostitutes, pimps, and “johns” in sting operations. Pimping and pandering, both felony offenses in California, are particularly serious charges and can have a major effect on your life, livelihood, and freedom.

If you are facing pimping or pandering charges in the San Diego area, contact a qualified criminal defense lawyer right away. An experienced defense lawyer like Peter Blair will work with you to understand the specifics of your situation and develop a defense strategy that works for your case. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact The Law Office of Peter Blair online to schedule your free and confidential consultation today.

Legal Definitions

California Penal Code Section 266h defines the crime of pimping as living or deriving support from the earnings of someone’s prostitution, knowing the person is a prostitute. Pimping also includes soliciting for the prostitute or receiving compensation for soliciting the prostitute. Essentially, you are guilty of pimping under California law if you (1) seek out customers for a prostitute and collect a fee from the customer/collect some of the prostitute’s pay or (2) collect some or all of a prostitute’s earnings (without playing a part in finding the customers).

Soliciting customers for a prostitute includes any sort of advertisement, including posting ads on Craigslist, setting up a “house of prostitution,” or shouting from an intersection.

It is important to note that California law does not discriminate based on the pimp’s relationship with the prostitute. Whether the relationship was positive or negative, simply acting as the prostitute’s “agent” is enough to constitute pimping.

Penal Code Section 266i defines the crime of pandering. Essentially, pandering comes down to the pimp procuring prostitutes by means of influence, encouragement, enticement, persuasion, fraud, threat, arrangement, or other request. Someone guilty of pandering acts as the middleman between “johns” and prostitutes, or he procures people for the purpose of prostitution.

The California Penal Code defines the following acts as examples of pandering:

  • Procuring another person for the purpose of prostitution
  • Using promises, threats, or violence to cause, induce, persuade, or encourage another person to become a prostitute
  • Procuring a place in a house of prostitution for someone
  • Using promises, threats, or violence to cause, induce, persuade, or encourage someone to become an “inmate of a house of prostitution”
  • Procuring someone for prostitution by means of fraud, duress, or abuse of a position of confidence or authority
  • Receiving or giving compensation for procuring a prostitute (or attempting to procure a prostitute)

Pandering is different from pimping because it doesn’t deal with the actual act of prostitution or the compensation thereof. Rather, it deals with those who procure others for the purpose of prostitution. (While many of those charged with pandering may also be guilty of pimping, this is not always the case. One can be guilty of pandering without ever collecting a dollar from the prostitutes involved, meaning he or she would not be guilty of pimping.)

Penalties, Punishment, and Sentencing

Pimping is a felony under California law. When the prostitute(s) involved is 16 years old or older, it is punishable by three, four, or six years in state prison. If the prostitute is under 16 years old, it is classified as pimping a minor, which is punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison.

Pandering is also a felony in California. It is punishable by three, four, or six years in prison. Pandering for a minor under 16 years of age is punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison.

Several offenses are closely related to the crime of pandering, including:

  • Transporting a minor for lewd acts – California Penal Code Section 266j: transporting a child under 16 years of age for the purpose of prostitution is a felony, punishable by three, six, or eight years in prison, plus a fine of up to $15,000. This includes any offer to transport or provide transportation to a minor under 16 for the purpose of prostitution.
  • Abduction of a minor for prostitution – California Penal Code Section 267: taking someone under 18 away from their father, mother, or legal guardian, without their consent, for the purpose of prostitution is punishable by time in state prison and a fine of up to $2,000.

Legal Defenses

There are several legal defenses available to those charged with pimping or pandering under California law. However, the best way to determine the appropriate defense strategy is to contact a San Diego criminal defense lawyer. An experienced attorney like Peter Blair can listen to the specifics of your case and determine the best strategy moving forward.

Common defenses for pimping and pandering charges include:

  • Police misconduct:A large number of prostitution and pimping arrests come from undercover “sting” operations conducted by law enforcement. Law enforcement officers have a duty to conduct these investigations, interrogations, and other proceedings in accordance with the law. Police misconduct can include coercing a suspect to confess, failing to read Miranda rights, conducting an illegal search or seizure, or something else entirely.
  • Entrapment: Entrapment is another example of police misconduct, but it is particularly applicable for prostitution charges. During undercover operations, law enforcement officers can pose as prostitutes or “johns” to try and catch prostitution suspects in the act, either out on the street or on the Internet. But even while undercover, police officers cannot try to compel an otherwise law-abiding citizen to break the law. Law enforcement officers cannot pressure, harass, threaten, or defraud a suspect in order to catch them in the act of pimping or pandering. Essentially, police officers are not allowed to use deceptive or threatening means to convince a suspect to do something he or she would not normally do.
  • Lack of sufficient evidence: In order to be found guilty of pimping or pandering, there must be evidence of a conversation between the suspect and the prostitute, or at least evidence of a monetary transaction. Without a recording of the conversation or a witness to the agreement, an experienced defense attorney can argue there is insufficient evidence to prove pimping or pandering took place. Much of the evidence in a prostitution case is circumstantial (i.e. the suspect was on a certain street corner or wearing a certain outfit), which is easier to dispute than physical evidence. Further, evidence of a monetary transaction is not necessarily enough to prove pimping or pandering took place; the exchange could have been entirely innocent and misunderstood.
  • Lack of criminal intent: In order for pimping to take place, you must have the specific intent to encourage or facilitate prostitution. If you were unaware of the nature of your actions (or how they were being perceived), you cannot be found guilty of pimping.

Contact The Law Office of Peter Blair

The best criminal defense is a proactive one. The sooner you act on your behalf, the better your chance of minimizing jail time or avoiding a conviction altogether. Criminal defense lawyer Peter Blair will listen to your situation and work to develop a defense strategy that fits your unique circumstances. You are more than the charges facing you, and Mr. Blair will do everything in his power to fight for you and your freedom.

Don’t let these charges define you. If you are facing charges of pimping or pandering, contact The Law Office of Peter Blair. Call (619) 357-4977 or contact us online to schedule your free and confidential consultation.