Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What's the Difference Between Pimping, Pandering and Soliciting Prostitution in California?

Under California law, several separate and distinct crimes fall under the umbrella of "prostitution-related" offenses. Here's a breakdown of the most commonly-charged prostitution-related crimes in California, along with their definitions, penalties, and my commentary.

Many local prosecutors around the state have adopted a strategy of "public shaming" as part of their campaigns against prostitution. If you are convicted of any crime related to prostitution in Orange County, for instance, the District Attorney will publish your name, photo and details of the offense on their website. They periodically send out this information to local newspapers in the form of press releases. The Orange County Register and other local news outlets may republish those details, including your mugshot.


Under PC 266h, a person is guilty of "pimping" in California if he receives financial support from the proceeds of another person's prostitution, or if he receives payment for finding clients on behalf of a prostitute. Think of a pimp as a prostitute's "agent / manager" (but maybe more "Don King" and less "Scott Boras").

If the prostitute is 16 or older, pimping is a felony punishable by 3-6 years in prison. If the prostitute is under 16, then the maximum penalty goes up to 8 years.


Pandering is defined under PC 266i as the crime of inducing, causing, persuading or encouraging another person to become a prostitute. Think of pandering as "recruiting" prostitutes

Just like pimping, pandering is a felony punishable by up to 6 years in prison if the prostitute is at least 16, or else 8 years if she is under 16.

Soliciting Prostitution

Soliciting prostitution is the crime of offering to engage in prostitution (as a buyer or a seller). A person is guilty of soliciting prostitution under PC 647(b) if he agrees to pay a prostitute (or an undercover cop) to perform a sex act, regardless of whether or not the sex act actually takes place.

A prostitute is also guilty of "soliciting" if she offers to perform a sex act for money.

Soliciting prostitution is a misdemeanor in California. The maximum penalty is 180 days in jail, plus a $1,000 fine.

There is no mandatory minimum penalty for a first offense under PC 647(b). For a second offense, though, the mandatory minimum is 45 days in jail. If the defendant has 2 or more prior convictions, the court must impose a penalty of at least 90 days in jail.

If probation is granted, the court will order the defendant to take an HIV / AIDS test, receive some counseling regarding the dangers of HIV / AIDS, stay away from certain areas and intersections that are known for high prostitution-related activity, and to disclose the terms of their probation when asked by any peace officer. Typically, the court will also impose some form of "custody", which may or may not be served in the county jail. Non-violent first offenders might serve 10-30 days performing labor, community service, or serving time under house arrest.

If a motor vehicle is used in the commission of the offense and the offense occurs within 1,000 feet of a private residence, the court may suspend the defendant's driver's license for 30 days, or may order that the defendant's license be restricted to driving to and from work for a period of 6 months. That's right -- you can lose your driver's license if you are convicted of prostitution in California.

Loitering with Intent to Engage in Prostitution

Loitering in California is the crime of being in a public place with the intent to commit a crime, but without actually attempting the crime. If you are observed cruising an area known for prostitution, circling the block, asking girls whether or not they're "working", etc., you might be arrested on suspicion of "loitering", even if you never actually agree to engage in prostitution.

Human Trafficking 

"Human trafficking" is the hot buzz word of the day. Prosecutors facing reelection love to tout their achievements at combating "human trafficking", or "modern day slavery", as they call it. They receive major grant money to fund anti-human trafficking task forces, and they're under pressure to deliver results, or else risk the loss of future funding. As a result, the Orange County District Attorney and other local prosecutors treat cases of alleged human trafficking very aggressively.

Human trafficking is the crime of using force or fear to deprive someone of their personal liberty, for the purpose of pimping or pandering the victim.

Since California voters approved Prop 35 in 2014, the maximum penalty for human trafficking is life in prison, plus fines of up to $1.5 million and mandatory lifetime sex offender registration if the defendant is ever released from prison.

Prostitution-related cases are often complicated because some offenses require the DA to prove the defendant's "specific intent". There are many possible defenses to these charges, including entrapment or other police misconduct. If you or a loved one is accused of any prostitution-related crime in Orange County, Los Angeles, Riverside or San Bernardino, call us for a free attorney consultation.  (714) 449 3335. Ask for John. Thanks for reading.

Orange County Prostitution Lawyer