Pandering, as defined in California Penal Code section 266i, involves encouraging, persuading, or inducing another person to engage in prostitution with the intention to aid or assist the person in doing so. Many people conflate pimping and pandering as the same crime and indeed often a defendant is charged with both pimping and pandering for the same act. However, these offenses are two distinct crimes although both are related to the facilitation of prostitution.

While the pimping and pandering share some similarities, they are different in their legal definitions and elements of proof. The key difference between the two crimes lies in the nature of the defendant's involvement. Pimping involves receiving compensation for arranging or providing prostitution services, while pandering involves actively encouraging or inducing someone to engage in prostitution. It does not matter if the person was already a prostitute or an undercover officer and in many cases, it is the attempt that defines the crime.


There are multiple circumstances under which a person may be charged with pandering:

  1. Successfully persuading or procuring another person to become a prostitute.
  2. Using promises, threats, violence or a device or scheme to cause, persuade, encourage, or induce another person to become a prostitute even if these efforts are not successful.
  3. Arranging or procuring a position for someone to be a prostitute in a house of prostitution or any other location where prostitution is encouraged or allowed.
  4. Using promises, threats, violence, or any device or scheme to cause, encourage, persuade, or induce someone to remain as a prostitute in a house of prostitution or any other location where prostitution is encouraged or allowed.
  5. Using fraud, trickery, duress, or abuse of a position of confidence or authority to persuade or procure a person to be a prostitute, enter any place where prostitution is encouraged or allowed, or to enter or leave California for the purpose of prostitution.
  6. Receiving, giving, agreeing to receive or give money or other compensation in exchange for persuading or attempting to persuade or procure a person to be a prostitute or enter or leave California for the purpose of prostitution.

Whew. Seems like this is an all-encompassing catch-all crime that anyone could get caught up in. But, in all of these circumstances, the element of intent applies. That is, the prosecution must prove that there was the intention to influence the targeted person to be a prostitute. Furthermore, in all circumstances, there must be proof that the defendant actually took some action to help facilitate the commission of the prostitution offense.


Karen’s boyfriend asked Karen to drop off his friend at a house in Stanton. Turns out the house was well-known as a house of prostitution and Karen’s passenger was going there to “apply” for a job as suggested to her by Karen’s boyfriend. Even though many in Stanton knew the purpose of this house, Karen did not. As it turned out, and by an unlucky turn of fate, Karen got caught up in a raid that was taking place at the location right after she dropped off her passenger. Officers arrested Karen and her passenger and ultimately charged Karen with pandering when Karen’s passenger admitted she was there to apply for a job as a prostitute. Because the purpose of the house was so well-known, Karen’s charge was predicated on the presumption that Karen intended to transport her passenger for the purpose of prostitution. Karen’s pandering defense attorney was successful in getting the charges dismissed against Karen after he was able to convince the prosecution that they lacked the evidence to prove Karen knew the purpose of the house and therefore had no intention to facilitate her passenger’s aims.

Dennis thought his girlfriend was hot and tried to convince her that she could make some big bucks as a prostitute. Despite his attempts to persuade her, his girlfriend refused to prostitute herself. She broke up with Dennis and reported his attempts to the police. Even though Dennis’ girlfriend never became a prostitute, Dennis may be charged with pandering.

Micky ran a prostitution ring out of Huntington Beach. He offered his friend, Denise, a “bounty” for every woman she could recruit to join Micky’s organization. Denise took him up on the offer. She approached several teenage girls and attempted to cajole them into Micky’s ring. She was not successful in recruiting any of these girls. However, her attempts to procure these girls for prostitution was pandering under the law. Furthermore, Denise’s potential penalties are enhanced because the girls were minors.

  1. Lack of intent: One of the essential elements of the offense of pandering is the specific intent to cause another person to become a prostitute. If the defendant did not have the intent to cause the other person to become a prostitute, they may not be guilty of pandering.
  2. Lack of knowledge: If the defendant did not know that the other person was engaged in or intended to engage in prostitution, they may not be guilty of pandering.
  3. Entrapment: If law enforcement officers used undue pressure or coercion to induce the defendant to commit the offense of pandering, this may be a valid defense. However, this defense is only successful when the evidence shows that the defendant would not have engaged in pimping if not for the actions of the police.

These defenses and others, such as violation of constitutional rights or false accusation, may result in a complete dismissal of the charges or an opportunity for a skilled pandering defense attorney to argue for reduced charges or sentencing.


Pandering is a felony. A conviction on this offense can result in a sentence of up to six years in prison and/or up to a $10,000 fine. If the target person to whom the defendant pandered is under the age of 18, then the potential sentence is increased to up to eight years in prison and mandatory registration on the California sex offender registry. Anyone facing charges of pandering and related offenses should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand their legal rights and options.


Attorney William Weinberg offers a confidential consultation regarding your case. He will give you his honest assessment of your options and possible defenses. Mr. Weinberg has defended clients charged with pandering and other related crimes for over 30 years. His knowledge and expertise, along with his attention to each case, makes him the advocate you want on your side. Contact him at his Irvine office at (949) 474-8008 or by email at

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