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What’s the difference between pimping and pandering?

Posted by Neil Shouse | Feb 27, 2020 | 0 Comments

either a pimp or a wannabe
Pimps can oftentimes be seen wearing a lot of gold

The main difference between the crimes of pimping and pandering are:

  1. while pimping is associated with a person receiving the earnings of a prostitute,
  2. pandering typically occurs when a person convinces or persuades another party to become, or continue to be, a prostitute.

The receipt of money is not a part of a pandering offense. Rather, the focus is on the convincing or persuasion.

Both offenses are considered felonies. They are punishable by:

  • three, four, or six years in state prison, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $10,000.

In 1989, the State of California signed into law a misdemeanor pimping and pandering statute – Penal Code 653.23 PC. This code section makes it a misdemeanor offense for a person to supervise or aid a prostitute.

What is the crime of pimping?

Pimping is an offense usually committed by a person receiving the earnings of a prostitute.

A prosecutor must prove the following in order to convict a person of this crime:

  1. the defendant knew that a certain person was a prostitute, and
  2. one or more of the following is true:
  • the money that the prostitute earned supported the defendant (either in whole or in part),
  • the money loaned to the prostitute, by someone who ran a house of prostitution, supported the defendant (either in whole or in part), or
  • the defendant asked for or received payment from the prostitute for soliciting prostitution customers.

The law defines a “prostitute” as a person who engages in sexual intercourse or any lewd act with another person in exchange for money (or other compensation).

A “lewd act” means physical contact of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person's body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

Examples of pimping include:

  • receiving money from a “call girl” after she gave oral sex to “a client.”
  • using all of a prostitute's money, that she received as a loan from a brothel, to pay rent.
  • asking a prostitute for $20 after referring a friend to her for “services.”

What is the crime of pandering?

Pandering is best conceptualized as the persuading of a person to become, or remain as, a prostitute.

A prosecutor must prove the following in order to convict a person of this crime:

  • while intending to influence someone to become or remain as a prostitute, the accused either:
  • persuaded someone to be a prostitute,
  • used promises, threats, or violence to persuade or encourage someone to become a prostitute,
  • arranged for someone to be a prostitute in a brothel,
  • used promises, threats, or violence to encourage someone to remain as a prostitute,
  • used fraud or trickery to persuade someone to be a prostitute, to enter a place of prostitution, or to enter or leave California for the purpose of prostitution, or
  • receive or give money in exchange for someone to be a prostitute.

The term “prostitute” has the same meaning as used for the crime of pimping.

Examples of pandering include:

  • paying someone $500 to become a prostitute.
  • talking to a brothel and convincing them “to hire” a friend.
  • threatening to hurt a person's family members if that person stops being a prostitute.

What are the penalties for pimping and pandering?

Both crimes are charged as felonies. They are punishable by:

  • three, four, or six years in state prison, and/or
  • a maximum fine of $10,000.

These penalties become harsher if a person is accused of pimping or pandering a minor. More severe penalties include:

  • registering as a sex offender if the prostitute is a minor under the age of 18, and
  • facing a maximum prison term of eight years if the prostitute is a minor under the age of 16.

What are California's misdemeanor pimping and pandering laws?

Penal Code 653.23 PC is the California statute that sets forth misdemeanor pimping and pandering laws.

This code section makes it a misdemeanor offense for a person to supervise or aid a prostitute. Acts that may get charged as crimes under this statute include:

  • regularly speaking with a known prostitute,
  • serving as a “lookout” for the prostitute,
  • driving with the prostitute to help her find “Johns,” and
  • attempting to direct potential “clients” to the prostitute.

About the Author

Neil Shouse

A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, Court TV, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.

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