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Pimping Law & Defense
PC 266h Crimes

Information on the crime of pimping is found at penal code section 266h(a).

Pimping Laws

The crime of pimping is committed when the defendant earns money or other compensation from a person who the defendant knows to be a prostitute, and the defendant encouraged, promoted, enticed, requested, or direct the prostitute to commit the crime of prostitution for the benefit of the defendant.


A prostitute is a person who engages in sexual conduct with another person in exchange for money or other compensation. Sexual conduct does not necessarily mean sexual intercourse. Sexual conduct can also be a lewd act. A lewd act means physical contact of the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer with some part of the other person's body for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification.

Note: Penal code 266h(a) does not require that money or other consideration be made directly to the defendant for the crime to be committed.

For example: If the defendant encourages and directs a woman to prostitute herself so that the woman can help the defendant with his rent or drug habit then the defendant is pimping the woman (prostitute). However, if the defendant encourages and directs a woman to prostitute herself for her own benefit, or the benefit of another person, the defendant is a panderer but not a pimp. Pandering crimes are covered in a different chapter.

Example 2: If the defendant operates a massage parlor where he encourages his workers to perform prostitution while working then the defendant will likely be charged with pimping because he encourage another person to prostitute herself and he also derives a benefit for the prostitution (the continued income for the massage parlor business from the prostitutes who lease out the massage rooms). In the situation where the defendant is operating a massage parlor business that operates as a cover for prostitution the defendant may also be charged with keeping a house of prostitution (PC 315), or human trafficking (if the sex workers are made to perform prostitution services by threat or force) [PC 236.1)]



Pimping, charged as PC 266h(a), is classified as a felony. If found guilty of PC 266h(a), the defendant could face up to six (6) years in prison. Other pimping charges carry different prison punishments, including:

  • PC 266h(b)(1) pimping a prostitute minor sixteen (16) years or older [Felony charge with a maximum punishment of six (6) years in prison]

  • PC 266h(b)(2) pimping a prostitute minor under the age of sixteen (16) [Felony charge with a maximum punishment of eight (8) years in prison].

  • PC 266g prostituting wife [Felony charge with a maximum punishment of four (4) years in prison].

Probation sentence: A probation sentence is not available in pimping cases.

PC 1170(h): If the defendant is found guilty of pimping, he or she must serve his or her incarceration in a state prison (as opposed to a local county jail), and no part of that prison sentence may be split or suspended.

Three Strikes Law: PC 266h(a) is not a strike offense under California Three Strikes Law; however, pimping of a minor can trigger a third strike (PC 266h(b)*1) & 266h(b)(2)..

Sex offender registration: PC 266h(a) Pimping an adult is not a sex offender registration offense. However, if found guilty of the crime of pimping a minor PC 266h(b)(1) & 266h(b)(2), the defendant will be ordered to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement.


Collateral punishment: A conviction of any pimping crime can subject the defendant to other punishments besides prison, including: harsh probation or parole terms, criminal protective orders (restraining orders), fines, restitution, loss of employment or immigration status, civil lawsuits, and more.

Note: PC 266h(a) is considered a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that pimping is considered a morally wrong act and carries collateral punishments for non-U.S. citizens and defendant who possess professional licenses (i.e. doctors, dentists, lawyers, etc.).

PC 266h Defenses

Common defenses to pimping charges include: insufficient evidence (to prove that the defendant intended another person to engage in prostitution, or that the defendant derived any support from the prostitution), mistake of fact, coerced confession, statute of limitations, double jeopardy, and more.

If you have been charged with pimping, or penal code 266h(a), contact our sex crimes criminal defense attorneys to learn your rights and options without delay. Our attorneys are always available to answer your questions. Call today!


Quick Legal Reference​

Crime: Pimping

Code: PC 266(h)(a) (CalCrim No. 1150)

Wobbler: No. PC 266(h)(a) is not a wobbler. PC 266(h)(a) is always charged as a felony.​


Incarceration: ​PC 266(h)(a) prison sentence range: 3, 4, or 6 years.

Probation: Probation is not available in PC 266(h)(a) cases. ​

PC 1170(h)): No. PC 266(h)(a) is not subject to PC 1170(h) sentencing. This means that any incarceration ordered after a conviction, that is not part of a probation sentence,must be served in state prison (as opposed to a county jail), and the prison sentence may not be split or suspended.

Strike: PC 266(h)(a) is not a strike offense listed in California's Three Strikes law.

Credits: 50% good conduct credits available.

CIMT: PC 266(h)(a) is a crime involving moral turpitude, which means that an arrest or conviction could lead to the following:

  • Immigration problems

  • Professional Licensing problems

  • Impeachment on credibility


Firearms: PC 266(h)(a) convictions prohibit a defendant from owning or possessing a firearm.

Registration: If convicted of PC 266(h)(a) the defendant is not required to register as a sex offender with local law enforcement. Note: ​Pimping of a minor is a sex offender registration offence.

Bail: $100,000 (San Bernardino County)

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Criminal Defense Lawyers

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