Two men were charged on suspicion of pimping and pandering women in Costa Mesa. According to a news report in The Orange County Register, the men aged 30 and 34 respectively, are both facing three felony charges of pimping and pandering. One of the men is accused of traveling from Hawaii to Las Vegas with a 19-year-old woman and a 21-year-old woman with the intent of selling the victims’ services. The other man is accused of traveling from New York to Las Vegas with a 25-year-old woman to arrange for her to engage in commercial sex for his benefit.
Prosecutors said while in Las Vegas, the two men decided to take the women to Orange County where they “continued to benefit from the women.” The arrests happened after the Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force located an ad online for the 19-year-old soliciting commercial sex on June 19.
The Task Force set up a meeting with the victim at a motel in Costa Mesa where the men were accused of sharing a room with the victims. The Task Force contacted all victims. The men are accused of using money the victims received through sex work to pay for gas, travel, food and lodging. Both men were arrested at the scene. They face a maximum sentence of eight years and eight months in prison if convicted.
Pimping and pandering are two distinct crimes under California law despite the fact that they are closely tied and are often charged together. Under California Penal Code 266h PC, “pimping” is the act of knowingly getting financial support from the earnings of someone engaged commercially in sex work. Pimping is also when an individual tries to get compensated for soliciting for a prostitute or finding customers for him or her.
Pandering (California Penal Code 266i PC) is said to have occurred when a person procures another individual for purposes of prostitution and persuades or encourages him or her to become a prostitute through promises of payment, threat of violence or other means. It also amounts to pandering when the person forces or uses fraud to procure another individual for prostitution or gives him or her money or compensation as a means of persuasion.
Under California law, both pimping and pandering are felony crimes. Anyone who is convicted of felony pimping and pandering charges may be looking at up to six years in state prison (per count) and a fine of up to $10,000. However, if the crime involves a minor under 18 years of age, the maximum prison sentences increases to eight years. In addition, you will be required to register as a sex offender.
Orange County law enforcement officials are quite aggressive when it comes to cracking down on prostitution. As mentioned, the county has a Human Trafficking Task Force, which actively takes tips from the public and goes after potential perpetrators. However, not all charges are valid. When you are wrongly accused of pimping or pandering, you face serious consequences including a lengthy prison sentence, hefty penalties and registering as a sex offender.
However, an experienced Orange County sex crime defense lawyer may be able to help you build a solid defense strategy. For example, if you were the victim of entrapment by law enforcement, you cannot be convicted of pimping or pandering. If you have been falsely accused, lacked criminal intent or if there is not enough evidence to show that you committed the crime – those are all solid defenses.
If you or a loved one has been charged with pimping and pandering, contact an experienced Orange County criminal defense attorney who will help protect your legal rights every step of the way and assist you with securing a positive outcome.