Pimping, as defined in California Penal Code section 266h, is the act of procuring, inducing, or encouraging an individual to engage in prostitution for financial gain or deriving financial support or other gains from an individual’s prostitution activities. The penalties upon a conviction of this crime can be severe. Hiring an attorney with experience defending charges of pimping can make the difference between prison time and freedom.

The California Penal Code defines pimping as any of the following acts:

  1. Asking for or receiving payment for the procuring or soliciting prostitution customers.
  2. Receiving money or other valuable consideration in exchange for the act of prostitution.
  3. Providing a place for an individual to engage in prostitution.

The crime of pimping does not require the defendant to physically engage in sexual activity or to manage or supervise the prostitute's activities. Simply living off the earnings of a prostitute or facilitating the solicitation of clients on the prostitute’s behalf can be enough to be charged with pimping.

  • Knowledge of prostitution: The prosecution must prove that the defendant knew or should have reasonably known that the individual was engaging in prostitution,
  • Deriving support or maintenance: The defendant received support or maintenance from the earnings or proceeds of the person's prostitution, and/or
  • Solicitation or compensation for soliciting: The defendant solicited clients on behalf of the prostitute or received compensation for doing so.

Claire operates a massage parlor in San Clemente. The masseuses who work in her establishment are independent contractors who pay Claire rent for their massage rooms and equipment provided by Claire. One of the masseuses is providing her clients with more than a massage, that is, she engages in sexual acts for money with some of her clients as part of her massage services. This goes on behind closed doors, but Claire and all the other masseuses have their suspicions. If the prosecution can prove that Claire knew, or should have reasonably known, that the masseuse was offering sexual services, Claire could be convicted on charges of prostitution because she provided the facilities and she received compensation for those services, even if that was ostensibly payment for rent.

Peter ran an escort service out of Laguna Beach. Customers paid Peter’s firm for the time and companionship of an escort. Each of Peter’s escort employees was required to sign a contract with terms stating that he or she was not to offer or engage in sex for pay with his or her customer. Even so, escorts were providing sex to some customers. When the operation was busted, Peter denied any knowledge of this. Circumstantial evidence demonstrated that Peter was aware that some escorts employed by him were providing sexual services to customers. As Peter derived income from the illicit prostitution acts of his escorts – even if the escorts were charging an additional fee “under the table” – Peter was, nonetheless, charged and convicted of pimping.

Devon lives with his girlfriend in Anaheim. Devon knows his girlfriend works as a prostitute. His girlfriend pays the rent and buys the food. Devon doesn’t work and lives off the generosity of his girlfriend. Devon could be charged with pimping for the simple reason that he “derive[d] support and maintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of the person's prostitution.” (People v. McNulty (1988) 202 Cal.App.3d 624, 630.)

  1. Lack of knowledge or intent: If the defendant did not know or intend to engage in pimping, then they may have a valid defense. Or similarly if the defendant did not know that the person in question was a prostitute. For example, someone simply providing transportation or lodging to someone who was engaging in prostitution without their knowledge may not be guilty of pimping.
  2. Lack of evidence: The prosecution must prove that the defendant actually engaged in pimping. If there is insufficient evidence to show that the defendant acted as a pimp, then they may have a valid defense.
  3. Lack of intent: The prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to live off the earnings of a prostitute or derive support from the earnings of a prostitute. If the defendant did not have this intent, they may have a defense.
  4. Entrapment: If law enforcement officers induced the defendant to engage in pimping, then they may have a defense of entrapment. In this case, the defendant would need to show that he or she would not have engaged in pimping if not for the actions of the police.

A successful defense may result in your pimping defense lawyer securing a dismissal of the charges or negotiating a reduction of the charges and/or sentence.


Pimping is a serious crime in California and is always charged as a felony. It is punishable by up to six years imprisonment in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the person engaged in the prostitution is a minor under the age of 16, the sentence is increased by a potential eight years’ imprisonment and a required registration on the sex offender list.

Pimping is often associated with other forms of criminal activity, such as human trafficking, drug trafficking, and organized crime. As a result, law enforcement agencies in California take pimping very seriously and often work to investigate and prosecute individuals who engage in this type of criminal activity.


If you have been charged with pimping or believe you are being investigated for this offense, it is important that you contact an experienced pimping defense attorney as soon as possible. Orange County criminal defense attorney William Weinberg, with over 30 years’ experience, has been a successful advocate defending individuals charged with pimping and other crimes. He invites you to contact him for a complimentary consultation regarding your matter. During this consultation, he will give you his honest assessment of your options and potential defense strategies.

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He was open, honest and compassionate (qualities you don't always find in an attorney) and his credentials proved that he is more than qualified to handle this complicated case. JoAnn H.
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There are many things about our conversations that told me that bill was an honest guy and knew what he was talking about. Amy C.