In Hollywood, a pimp is someone who forces someone to sell their body for sex and then takes all of their money. These Hollywood pimps are willing to beat, drug, and even rape women to exert control over them. In reality, pimping is much less clear cut, and even friends of prostitutes who offer them protection in exchange for a fee are still technically considered pimps. Even someone who helps a woman list her “escort services” online in exchange for a percentage of the woman’s pay could be accused of pandering if she only uses that title to cover up her work as a prostitute. Because these cases are so complex, and it’s easy to accidentally say something that could harm your case, anyone facing pimping or pandering allegations in California should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible.
What is the Difference Between Pimping and Pandering?
The first thing you need to understand about these terms is their legal definitions and the distinctions between them. Under California Penal Code section 266(h) (PC), a pimp is someone who collects all or some of a prostitute’s pay, whether or not that person helped the prostitute solicit clients. A pimp does not need to threaten, drug, or beat a prostitute, just take a portion of her earnings. If someone takes 10% of a prostitute’s earnings in exchange for letting her rent a room from your home, they technically worked as a pimp.
Pandering is a separate offense filed under California Penal Code section 266(i) (PC) —though these two charges are often filed together. Pandering occurs when someone helps make someone available as a prostitute by encouraging or persuading the individual to become (or remain) a prostitute. The means to convince someone could involve force, threats or violence, lies, promises, drugging someone, or being honest and straightforward about how you believe prostitution could improve someone’s current situation. Whereas pimping requires you to collect money from the prostitute, you can be convicted of pandering without ever taking a cent for your efforts.
The legal definitions may sound complex, but essentially when it comes to what makes pimping different tahn pandering is that a pimp collects all or some of a prostitute’s pay, whereas pandering occurs when someone encourages or persuades someone to become or stay a prostitute.
Pimping and Pandering Sentence
Both pimping and pandering are felonies, punishable by up to six years in state prison and$15,000 in fines —even for a first-time offense. If any prostitutes were minors, the sentence could be increased to eight years, and you could be subjected to mandatory sex offender registration. These sentences are serious and require the assistance of a skilled defense lawyer.
Fighting Pimping and Pandering Allegations
There are many different defenses for pimping and pandering charges in California; ultimately, the best defense comes down to the case’s specifics. For example, suppose someone accused you of forcing them into prostitution. In that case, your sex crimes lawyer could argue that they made false allegations or that there is insufficient evidence to prove the claims. Alternatively, if you take a prostitute to a client’s house and then try to talk them out of having sex for money, you are not guilty of pandering because you did not encourage or persuade her to commit a crime.
Knowledge and intent are critical in these cases, so if you are collecting a portion of someone’s pay in exchange for security services but are not aware that the person is offering sex acts in exchange for money, you are not guilty of pimping. Similarly, if you casually mentioned understanding why some women become prostitutes because the money is good and the work is easy, you couldn’t be convicted of pandering even if the person you talked to later became a prostitute.
How Pimping and Pandering Differ from Human Trafficking
Human trafficking occurs when someone deprives another person’s liberty to obtain forced labor or services —essentially, slavery. Sex trafficking is a common form of human trafficking that involves depriving someone of their personal freedom with the intent to violate the state’s pimping and pandering laws. This law can also be charged when someone attempts to convince a minor to become a prostitute.
While there is some crossover between human trafficking and pimping and pandering, most prostitutes voluntarily choose to do sex work and are not trafficking victims. When it comes to those forced into sex work or underage sex workers though, sex trafficking has occurred.
As you might imagine, sex trafficking has a much lengthier sentence than pimping and pandering, with penalties of up to 12 years or even life imprisonment if force, fear, violence, or threats were used.
Similar Criminal Charges
Those charged with pimping and pandering often face other criminal charges as well. Crimes commonly charged alongside these offenses include:
- production or possession of child pornography
- sexual battery
- statutory rape
- revenge porn
- forced sodomy
- forced oral copulation
- drug crimes
- supervising or aiding a prostitute
- lewd conduct in public
- domestic violence
- contributing to the delinquency of a minor
- failure to register as a sex offender
When hiring a lawyer to protect you against these allegations, always work with someone with experience fighting all types of violent and sex crimes you have been charged with.
Call a Criminal Defense Attorney
Since California pimping and pandering cases can often be very complex, always refuse to answer any police questions without speaking to a lawyer first. If you have been accused of either of these crimes, please call (760) 643-4050 or (858) 486-3024 to schedule a free consultation with Peter M. Liss.