Penal Code 266i PC – California’s Pandering Laws

Penal Code 266i PC is the California statute that defines the crime of “pandering.” Pandering is when a person tries to influence someone to become, or remain, a prostitute by way of:

  • persuasion or promises,
  • threats or violence,
  • arrangements with a brothel,
  • fraud or trickery, or
  • payments of money.


  • 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.


A defendant can challenge a pandering charge by raising a legal defense. A few common defenses are:


A violation of this 266i PC is a California felony. This is opposed to an infraction or a misdemeanor. The crime is punishable by:

Our California criminal defense attorneys will highlight the following in this article:

pimp with a fat cigar in his mouth, pandering to the pros
Pandering is when a person tries to influence someone to become, or remain, a prostitute.

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 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.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, the accused does not have to have succeeded in convincing the person to become a prostitute. The mere fact that he encouraged a person to be a prostitute is enough.3

Note also that pandering is a specific intent crime in California. This means a person is only guilty if:

  • he acts 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 legal defenses?

A defendant can challenge a pandering charge with a legal defense.

Three common defenses are:

  1. entrapment,
  2. falsely accused, and/or
  3. no intent to persuade.

2.1. Entrapment

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 a suspect into committing the crime.

This “luring” is known as entrapment. It applies when police try to get a person to commit a crime by using:

  • pressure,
  • harassment,
  • fraud, or
  • threats.

Entrapment is an acceptable legal defense if:

  • the accused only committed the crime,
  • because of the entrapment.

2.2. Falsely accused

This is a common defense when the accused was in a romantic relationship with a prostitute. Here, the prostitute may falsely accuse the defendant of pandering:

  1. to get back at him for some reason,
  2. to reduce her own criminal liability, or
  3. out of jealousy.

No matter the reason, this is a good defense if the accused can show the prostitute lied.

2.3. No intent to persuade

Recall that pandering is a specific intent crime. A defendant is only guilty if:

  • he committed an act,
  • with the purpose of encouraging a person to be a prostitute.

It is a defense, then, for a defendant to show he did not act with this intent.

man behind bars
A violation of this law can result in a fine and/or jail time

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 an accused with felony (or formal) probation in lieu of prison time.

Note that if a defendant is convicted of pandering a minor under the age of 18, then:

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 the accused's pandering was an aggravated felony,
  • then he could be deported or get marked inadmissible.

5. Can a person get a conviction expunged?

A person convicted of this crime is entitled to an expungement if he:

  1. successfully completes probation, or
  2. completes a jail term (whichever is relevant).

If a party violates a probation term, he could still possibly get the offense expunged. But this would be in the judge's discretion.

Under Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement releases an individual 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 the defendant's gun rights.

According to California law, convicted felons are prohibited from:

  • acquiring, or
  • possessing

a gun in California.

Since pandering is a felony, a defendant will lose his gun rights if convicted of the offense.

7. Are there related offenses?

There are three crimes related to pandering. These are:

  1. pimping – PC 266h,
  2. supervising or aiding a prostitute – PC 653.23, and
  3. contributing to the delinquency of a minor – PC 272.

7.1. Pimping – PC 266h

Penal Code 266h PC is the California statute that makes it a crime for a person to:

  • receive money or another another form of compensation,
  • from someone he knows 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.

7.2. 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.

7.3. 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 someone acts, or fails to act, and as a result a minor becomes:

  1. a dependent of the juvenile court system,
  2. a juvenile delinquent, or
  3. a habitual truant.

Note that unlike pandering, a person can violate this law if he failed to uphold some duty to act.

For additional help...

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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:

Legal References:

  1. California Penal Code 266i PC. See also CALCRIM No. 1151 – Pandering. Judicial Council of California Criminal Jury Instructions (2017 edition).

  2. 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.

  3. People v. Zambia (2011) 51 Cal.4th 965.

  4. See same.

  5. See INA 237 (a) (2) (A).

  6. California Penal Code 1203.4 PC.

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