Pandering in California

Penal Code 266 (i) – Pandering in California

In California, you can face prosecution for actions that relate to prostitution, these two offenses are known as pimping and pandering. They both relate to the intentional encouragement and continuance of prostitution. Although they are similar, and generally charged against the same person, pandering contrast with a charge of pimping. Pandering focuses on the persuasion of prostitution alone—that can be accomplished through numerous means—while pimping takes it a step further and focuses on the financial gain of prostitution.  

What is California’s Pandering Law?

Under California Penal Code section 266(i), it is illegal to procure (persuade) a person to become or remain a prostitute. Even if you are not receiving monetary compensation you can still be found guilty of pandering simply by facilitating prostitution or transporting prostitutes. 

Pandering can be accomplished in the following ways: 

  • Persuasion and promises
  • Payments of money to encourage someone to become or remain a prostitute
  • Making arrangements with a brothel 
  • Forcing, causing, or permitting your wife to work in a house of prostitution. 

Prostitution laws in California are set forth in Penal Code 647(b). You can be charged with prostitution, itself, if you engage in sexual activity in exchange for money or something of value. Often times, prostitution is a multi-faceted operation that also involves other actions that relate to prostitution. 

How does a Prosecutor Prove a Pandering Case in California? 

To convict a person of pandering, under PC 266 (i), the prosecution must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt that: 

  1. You did one of the following with the intention of encouraging someone to become or remain a prostitute: 
    1. You successfully persuaded another person to become a prostitute
    2. You used promises, threats, or violence to persuade or encourage someone to become a prostitute 
    3. You arranged for someone to be a prostitute in a brothel or anywhere where prostitution is encouraged or allowed. 
    4. You used promises, threats, or violence to convince someone to remain a prostitute 
    5. You used fraud, trickery, or duress to persuade someone to be a prostitute, enter a brothel, or enter or leave California for prostitution 
    6. You received money, gave money, or agreed to give money – or something of value, in exchange for persuading or attempting someone to be a prostitute 


  1. You intended to influence someone to be a prostitute 
  2. The person was either over the age of 16 or under the age of 16

Legal definitions to remember: 

Under the law, a person becomes one year older as soon as the first minute of his or her birthday has begun. 

Pandering by duress is defined as a direct or implied threat of force, violence, danger, hardship, or retribution that would cause a reasonable person to do something that he or she would not do otherwise.

It is worth mentioning that it does not matter whether the other person was already a prostitute or an undercover police officer to be accused of pandering. Also, in order to be convicted of pandering under PC 266 (i), it is required that an intended act of prostitution be with someone other than you, the defendant. 

Proving these elements beyond a reasonable doubt means that at a jury trial, after hearing all of the evidence, if the jury has any reasonable doubt on any one of these things, then you cannot be found guilty. If the jury has any reasonable doubt that the defendant did any of the above-mentioned means to successfully persuade or attempt to persuade someone into becoming or remaining a prostitute, then that would be a not guilty verdict.

Consider the following exampleMartha, a business owner, is unaware that some of her employees are prostituting themselves at her place of business. Martha would not be found guilty of pandering, because she had no idea of the prostitution at issue. 

Examples of Pandering:

Josh runs an escort service. He uses various social media platforms and advertisement website to scout recent high school graduate. His ads promise young women large sums of money and housing in a Los Angeles Mansion in exchange for sexual services. 

Sarah owes Melanie money. Melanie secures a spot in a brothel for Sarah and threatens to hurt her if she does not become a sex worker and pay off her debt.  

Penalties for a Pandering Conviction in California

Pandering is a FELONY and the penalties for this offense include: 

  • Incarceration in the state prison for three (3), four (4), or six (6) years 
  • A maximum fine of $10,000 
  • If a non-US citizen, it is a crime of moral turpitude and you face possible deportation or inability to become a permanent resident or US citizen. 
  • Formal probation 

Pandering with a minor 16 years of age or older: 

  • Incarceration in the state prison for three (3), four (4), or eight (8) years 

Pandering with a minor under the age of 16: 

  • Incarceration in the state prison for three (3), six (6), or eight (8) years 

Defenses against a Pandering Charge 


Prostitution, including pandering charges, often arise out of law enforcement schemes and undercover stings. Generally, entrapment happens if a law enforcement officer engages in conduct that would cause a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime. A law officer might entrap a person, by engaging in conduct that would make the commission of the crime unusually attractive to a normally law-abiding person to commit the crime. For example, insisting that the act is not illegal or offering an extraordinary benefit.

Lack of Knowledge 

Pandering charges rely on the fact that you knew about the prostitution. You must have intended to do an illegal act or know you are doing something illegal to be convicted of a crime. For example, you could have reasonably been unaware that they money you were receiving to pay for utilities was coming from prostitution. 

Mistake of Fact: It can be argued that the defendant never intended to commit a crime and that the act that took place was due to a mistake in facts. You can only be found guilty of pandering if you committed an act, with the purpose of encouraging a person to be a prostitute. This is a defense if it can be shown that the defendant did not act with that intent. 

False Accusations: 

Sometimes it is possible that you are facing accusations because of lies and misunderstandings. The motive behind is sometimes for personal gain or revenge.  A well-versed attorney will work to bring to light false information and to uncover the truth. 

Hiring a Sex Crime Attorney 

Our Bay Area sex crime lawyers are experienced in getting cases dismissed or earning you the best possible outcome, but it does take work. Being arrested for a violent crime is devastating. It can affect your job, professional licenses, immigration status, and can cause embarrassment. Our job is to get involved early on in a case, reduce that stress, and handle all of the steps of fighting your case. Whether that means going to trial or securing you the best possible plea deal, we do it all.

 If you are ready to discuss your case with a VIRTUOSO CRIMINAL & DUI LAWYERS Attorney, please contact us at (510) 988-5566 for a free and confidential consultation.