Pimping and Pandering Laws

Pimping and pandering laws are meant to undercut the sex industry by targeting the intermediaries - those who solicit money from prostitutes, transport prostitutes to and from hotspots, advertise sex services, and recruit prostitutes into the sex industry.

The penalties for pimping and pandering are much more severe than those for prostitution or solicitation. Unlike prostitution and solicitation, which are classified as misdemeanors in most states, pimping and pandering are typically classified as felonies, and may subject the violator to over a decade of jail time and tens of thousands of dollars in monetary punishment, depending on applicable state law and whether the prostitute involved was a minor.

Even in Nevada, the only state in the U.S. in which prostitution is legal, pandering is illegal and is a felony. All states therefore punish individuals seeking to encourage work in the sex industry. The choice to enter into and remain in the sex industry must be made entirely by the prostitute.

The Elements of Pimping and Pandering

Some states incorporate both pimping and pandering into one cause of action. In New Jersey, for example, the crime of promoting prostitution is a broad substitute for pimping and pandering, and specifically targets non-sex-worker individuals who benefit, promote, or earn money from prostitution. In most states, however, the crimes of pimping and pandering are related, but separate.

Pandering generally requires the following elements:

1) Procurement of a person for the purpose of prostitution.

  • This element is also satisfied by attempt. In many states, a broad range of behaviors qualifies as procurement: securing a spot in a brothel for someone, threatening a person with violence unless they become a sex worker, giving a substantial gift to entice someone to become a sex worker, and more.

2) Specific intent to promote, encourage, or otherwise facilitate prostitution.

  • For example, if you own a business but are unaware that some of your employees are prostituting themselves at your place of business, then you will not be found liable for pandering. You cannot be found liable for mistake or ignorance. You can only be found liable if you actually knew of the prostitution-at-issue.

Pimping, on the other hand, generally requires the following:

1) Receipt of benefits from a prostitute as a result of the prostitute's sex services.

  • The receipt of money and/or benefits can be direct or indirect. For example, if a man has control over a woman, and he exerts this control so that the woman has sex with a potential business partner (in the hope that this exchange of sex will positively influence the business partner's dealings with the man), it would likely be considered a receipt of indirect benefits.

2) Specific intent to receive money and/or benefits from a prostitute as a result of the prostitute's sex services.

  • For example, if you are a landlord and your tenants gives you money that they earned from prostitution, but you are unaware that the money was made as a result of prostitution, then you cannot be found liable for pimping.

Penalties for Pimping and Pandering

If you are found guilty of pimping and/or pandering, the penalties can be quite severe. In California, for example, you may face three, four, or six years in state prison (and a $10,000 fine) for one count of either pimping or pandering. The penalties rise to three, six, or eight years in prison if you are accused or pimping or pandering a minor. In other states, the penalties can be as harsh as up to thirty years in prison for procurement of a minor into the sex industry.


If the state proves all the elements of the crime, the defendant may assert various affirmative defenses to escape liability. These include, but are not limited to, coercion/duress, insanity, entrapment, mistake of fact, and involuntary intoxication. Defenses vary significantly between state case law, so as a defendant, you will want to work with a qualified attorney to determine the best strategy for your particular case.

Get Professional Help With Your Sex Crime Charges

They say "Pimpin' ain't easy," but defending against pimping and pandering charges is almost certainly harder. The assistance of a competent attorney can help develop a defense plan tailored to your case. Get started today by meeting with an experienced defense attorney near you.

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