California Penal Code § 266i PC makes it a crime to engage in pandering, which is defined as attempting to influence someone to become (or to remain) a prostitute. The offense is a felony punishable by a maximum sentence of up to 6 years in jail or prison.
Pandering can happen by way of
- persuasion or promises,
- threats or violence,
- arrangements with a brothel,
- fraud or trickery, or
- payments of money.
The language of the code section reads as follows:
266i. (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who does any of the following is guilty of pandering, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years:
(1) Procures another person for the purpose of prostitution.
(2) By promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades, or encourages another person to become a prostitute.
(3) Procures for another person a place as an inmate in a house of prostitution or as an inmate of any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state.
(4) By promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades, or encourages an inmate of a house of prostitution, or any other place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed, to remain therein as an inmate.
(5) By fraud or artifice, or by duress of person or goods, or by abuse of any position of confidence or authority, procures another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to enter any place in which prostitution is encouraged or allowed within this state, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution.
(6) Receives or gives, or agrees to receive or give, any money or thing of value for procuring, or attempting to procure, another person for the purpose of prostitution, or to come into this state or leave this state for the purpose of prostitution.
- 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.
You can challenge a pandering charge by raising a legal defense. A few common defenses are:
- custody in the state prison for up to six years, or
- felony (or formal) probation.
Our California criminal defense attorneys will explain the following in this article:
- 1. When is pandering a crime in California?
- 2. Are there defenses to a 266i PC charge?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. Are there immigration consequences?
- 5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?
- 6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?
- 7. What is the difference between pimping and pandering?
- 8. Are there related offenses?
1. When is pandering a crime in California?
A prosecutor must prove the following to convict a person of pandering:
While intending to influence someone to become or remain a prostitute, you 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.1
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).2
Note that to be liable for pandering, you do not have to have succeeded in convincing the person to become a prostitute. The mere fact that you encouraged a person to be a prostitute is enough.3
Note also that pandering is a specific intent crime in California. This means you are only guilty if:
- you act with the purpose of encouraging, or persuading,
- a person to become a prostitute.4
Example: Jerome and Nia are college students. Jerome recently read an article on prostitution and he tells Nia some of the benefits of life as a prostitute. Here, Jerome is not guilty of pandering. He merely provided information without persuading Nia to become a call girl.
Jerome, though, is guilty of pandering if:
- after discussing the article,
- he pulled out a gun and told Nia he would hurt her if she refuses to become a prostitute.
2. Are there defenses to a 266i PC charge?
You can challenge a pandering charge with a legal defense.
Three common defenses are:
- falsely accused, and/or
- no intent to persuade.
Many arrests for PC 266i violations are made after an undercover sting. Any later charges, though, must get dropped if:
- an officer during the sting,
- lured you into committing the crime.
This “luring” is known as entrapment. It applies when police try to get you to commit a crime by using:
- fraud, or
Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense if:
- you only committed the crime,
- because of the entrapment.
2.2. Falsely accused
This is a common defense if you were in a romantic relationship with a prostitute. Here, the prostitute may falsely accuse you of pandering:
- to get back at you for some reason,
- to reduce her own criminal liability, or
- out of jealousy.
No matter the reason, this is a good defense if you can show the prostitute lied.
2.3. No intent to persuade
Recall that pandering is a specific intent crime. You are only guilty if:
- you committed an act,
- with the purpose of encouraging a person to be a prostitute.
It is a defense, then, to show you did not act with this intent.
3. What are the penalties?
A violation of this code section is a California felony. The crime is punishable by:
- custody in the state prison for up to six years, and/or
- a maximum fine of $10,000.
A judge may award you with felony (or formal) probation in lieu of prison time.
Note that if you are convicted of pandering a minor under the age of 18, then:
- you can face up to eight years in state prison, and
- must register for life as a California sex offender.
4. Are there immigration consequences?
A conviction of this law may have negative immigration consequences.
United States immigration law says that certain kinds of criminal convictions can lead to:
A category of “deportable” or “inadmissible” crimes includes “aggravated felonies.”5
This means that:
- if the facts show that your pandering was an aggravated felony,
- then you could be deported or get marked inadmissible.
5. Can I get a conviction expunged?
If you are convicted of this crime, you are entitled to an expungement if you:
- successfully complete probation, or
- complete a jail term (whichever is relevant).
If you violate a probation term, you could still possibly get the offense expunged. Though this would be in the judge’s discretion.
Under Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases you from virtually “all penalties and disabilities” arising out of the conviction.6
6. Does a conviction affect gun rights?
A conviction under this statute will have a negative effect on your gun rights.
According to California law, convicted felons are prohibited from:
- acquiring, or
a gun in California.
Since pandering is a felony, you will lose your gun rights if convicted of this offense.
7. What is the difference between pimping and pandering?
Pandering is persuading someone to become a prostitute. In contrast, pimping (PC 266h) is knowingly receiving money from a prostitute. Therefore, the focus of pandering is persuasion. While the focus of pimping is receiving payment.
In practice, many panderers are also pimps. Though technically you can pander without being a pimp, and vice versa.
8. Are there related offenses?
There are three crimes related to pandering. These are:
- pimping – PC 266h,
- supervising or aiding a prostitute – PC 653.23, and
- contributing to the delinquency of a minor – PC 272.
8.1. Pimping – PC 266h
Penal Code 266h PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to:
- receive money or another form of compensation,
- from someone you know is a prostitute.
Note that unlike pandering, the receipt of money is part of pimping. The focus is on financial gain and not on the persuasion of someone.
8.2. Supervising or aiding a prostitute – PC 653.23
Penal Code 653.23 PC makes it a crime to supervise or assist someone else who either:
- engages in prostitution, or
- loiters for the purpose of engaging in prostitution.
While pimping looks more at the receipt of money, this offense focuses on assistance or supervision.
8.3. Contributing to the delinquency of a minor – PC 272
Penal Code 272 PC is the California statute that makes it a crime to contribute to the delinquency of a minor.
This offense occurs when you act, or fail to act, and as a result, a minor becomes:
Note that unlike pandering, you can violate this law if you failed to uphold some duty to act.
For additional help…
For additional guidance or to discuss your case with a criminal defense attorney, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group.
For information on pimping charges in Nevada and/or Colorado, please see our articles on:
- California Penal Code 266i PC. See also CALCRIM No. 1151 – Pandering. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2017 edition).
- See Penal Code 647b PC. See also People v. Hill (1980) 103 Cal.App.3d 525; People v. Romo (1962) 200 Cal.App.2d 83; and, Wooten v. Superior Court (2001) 93 Cal.App.4th 422.
- People v. Zambia (2011) 51 Cal.4th 965.
- See same.
- See INA 237 (a) (2) (A).
- California Penal Code 1203.4 PC.