Pandering and Prostitution

Sacramento Region Defense Attorney

People v. Zambia (2011)This case focused on the meaning of California Penal Code section 266(i)(a)(2), which says that a person is guilty of pandering (pimping) if he "[b]y promises, threats, violence, or by any device or scheme, causes, induces, persuades, or encourages another person to become a prostitute." Specifically at issue was interpretation of the words "to become a prostitute."

The case arose from the arrest of Jomo Zambia in 2007 for pandering one night in Los Angeles. Zambia had pulled his vehicle along side a woman who, unbeknown to Zambia, was a Los Angeles police officer posing as a prostitute as part of a sting. Zambia flashed a business car, said he was a pimp, and said he would "take care of" the woman if she got in his car. Zambia was arrested for pandering and later found guilty by a trial court. An appellate court upheld the conviction before the case was taken up by the state Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court was not persuaded by Zambia's defense that "to become a prostitute" does not include encouraging someone who is merely posing as a prostitute or who already is one. Instead, the court said that "to become a prostitute" encompasses encouraging someone to become a prostitute for the first time or recruiting someone who is already a prostitute to switch from one pimp to another. It also includes Zambia's actions of encouraging an undercover police officer to engage in prostitution.

The California Supreme Court affirmed the trial and appellate court decisions and upheld Zambia's conviction.

People v. Grant (2011)This California appellate court decision stated that a person who shares an apartment or home with a prostitute can still be convicted of pimping if he derives "support and maintenance" from the prostitute's earnings.

The case concerned Sean Ali Grant who had an "intimate relationship" with a woman. The two shared an apartment, which the girlfriend also used in her work as a prostitute. In March 2009, police responded to a call from the girlfriend, who said that Grant had become angry when she tried to move out of the apartment. Grant fled the apartment but was apprehended and charged with and convicted of - among other violations - pandering under Penal Code 266(h)(a). Grant appealed the pandering charge.

The appellate court ruled against Grant, saying that because he advertised the girlfriend's services, scheduled her appointments, hid in the closet while she was with her "clients," and then took possession of the money which they left on the counter when they left the apartment, he clearly derived "support and maintenance" from her activities.

This doesn't mean that every person who accepts money from a prostitute would be convicted of pandering. The court cited the example of a psychologist who accepts payment from a prostitute in exchange for counseling. The psychologist in this case would be deriving "his support from his own services."

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