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What Are Trafficking, Pandering, and Prostitution Offenses?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Aug 03, 2022

These offenses all kind of fit into the same category.  It usually involves, especially when it gets serious, someone who is being accused of being a pimp. They're doing a lot of time trafficking underage girls – even girls over 18.

Pimping and Pandering Laws in California

But the bottom line is, when you get in the business of pimping out underaged girls, you're looking at a lot of time in prison, and that's why I decided, since I've defended a lot of these cases over the years, to give you some ideas of how you might be able to defend some of these cases successfully.

The California pimping and pandering laws are defined under Penal Code 266h and 266i PC. These related crimes generally address receiving financial compensation from commercial sexual activity and the recruitment of prostitutes.

Pimping and pandering laws are so similar that perpetrators are frequently charged with both crimes, even though they have different elements of the crime.

What Are the Primary California Laws?

Pimping refers to someone receiving a prostitute's earnings, while pandering refers to someone persuading others to become or keep working as a prostitute. Let's look at the several related statutes below.

  • California Penal Code 266h PC pimping is defined as receiving all or part of the proceeds of somebody's work as a prostitute. A conviction is a straight felony with up to six years in state prison.
  • California Penal Code 266i defines pandering as procuring somebody for prostitution or persuading or encouraging them to become a prostitute using promises, threats, or violence.
  • California Penal Code 647(b) PC makes it a crime to engage in prostitution and soliciting, requesting, encouraging, or making an offer to pay for sexual-related activity, typically intercourse.
  • California Penal Code 236.1 PC defines the crime of human trafficking as depriving someone of their liberty with the intent to obtain forced labor or services, which usually includes sex trafficking

The charges of PC 266h pimping and PC 266i pandering are severe, and you will generally face a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence if convicted.

If your defense attorney can negotiate a resolution where you don't plead guilty or no contest the pimping and pandering charge, then you could receive a sentence that does not include time in prison. I've often seen in these cases that the young girls involved are pimping themselves out.  They're the ones putting ads out.

They're operating without a pimp much of the time, and then when they get caught because they're scared, they suddenly start pointing the finger at somebody who ends up becoming my client.

Did You Know the Minor was Underage?

So, one of the first things you have to look at when you're talking about pimping and pampering, and you're accused of being underage, is whether or not you reasonably should have known under the circumstances that that person was underage.

That will depend on the facts and circumstances of the case and how old the person is:

  • Whether you were in contact with them,
  • Whether they showed you their ID,
  • Whether somebody told you they were underage.

There are a whole bunch of issues surrounding that.  So, that's one area of attack for the defense in a human trafficking case involving an underage victim or victims. The defendant had no way of knowing that the person involved was under the age of 18.

Was The Person Acting as Their Own Pimp?

The next defense I see and some ideas for handling these cases is that the person acted as their pimp. Therefore, you can't possibly be guilty because they were making the decision themselves, so how can they accuse you of being guilty of a crime when you didn't do the steps necessary to complete it?

Person Acting as Their Own Pimp

For example, you didn't put the ads out.  You didn't go with them to their meetings.  That's another big thing that they look at.  You didn't take part of their money.  These are all issues that you've got to look at.  When you go over the evidence that the prosecutors have – for example:

  • Do they have your phone?
  • Do they have the alleged victim's phone?
  • Are they seeing back-and-forth messages consistent with prostitution-type activity?

You must sit with your attorney, assess things, and decide. Whether or not they can get you for pandering and whether they can get you for human trafficking of a minor.

Because if they can get you for human trafficking of a minor, you're facing many years in prison, and sometimes they may have the evidence on some of it but not on others. We can negotiate a plea bargain if that makes sense in your case.

What are the Penalties and Related California Crimes?

As noted, pimping and pandering are both straight felonies in California and are punishable by up to six years in prison, plus fines and fees. If the victim was a minor under 18, it's punishable by up to eight years in state prison.  These charges cannot be reduced to a misdemeanor.

Penalties for California Sex Crimes

There are several other related California crimes for Penal Code 266h and 266i pimping and pandering, including:

We can use several legal defenses to fight pimping and pandering charges, such as a lack of intent to persuade, police entrapment, and false allegations.

Through prefiling negotiation with law enforcement and the prosecutor, we might be able to convince the prosecutor not to file formal charges before the first court date, called a DA reject.

So, if you're looking for the best, you want to scrutinize your case, and decide whether you have a defense, you've come to the right place.  Pick up the phone now.  Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding.  I stand at the ready to help you. The Hedding Law Firm offers a free case review by phone or use the contact form.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.