Prostitution Prostitution is often called the world’s oldest profession. While that may be true, most areas of the country continue to make it a crime punishable with jail sentences, fines, as well as other statutory requirements if convicted. This is true in California.

The elements of the offense are soliciting or engaging in a sexual act for money. Either party to the agreement can be guilty of the crime. There need not be an actual act, but there must be an offer, acceptance, and some conduct manifesting the agreement. A person entering a car with another with the intent to engage in an act of sexual intercourse would be a manifestation of a prior agreement to engage in sex for money. Money need not change hands; just an agreement to engage in the sexual act for money is all that is required.1

Prostitution is a general misdemeanor except under the following conditions, if there is one prior conviction for prostitution by a defendant then there is a mandatory minimum of 45 days in jail, and if there are two prior convictions there is a mandatory minimum of 90 days in jail.2  If there is a prior conviction, and a positive HIV test that the defendant had been made aware of, then the offense is a felony.3

Prostitution Some of the more interesting, but not often seen related offenses to prostitution are the following misdemeanors, keeping or living in a house used for prostitution;4  leasing a house for prostitution;5  knowingly bringing a person to a house used for prostitution;6  sending to, or permitting a minor to stay in house of prostitution.7

Forcing a person into prostitution through fraud or misrepresentation is a felony, as is receiving or paying compensation to force a person into prostitution by misrepresentation or fraud.8  A husband who forces his wife into prostitution, or allows his wife to remain in a house of prostitution is guilty of a felony.9


Pimping is one of societies more despicable yet colorful terms, and not surprisingly is a felony offense. It means simply to knowingly be supported by a prostitute, or to receive compensation for soliciting business for a prostitute. If the prostitute is a minor, and under the age of 16, the maximum prison sentence is increased by 2 years.10  One who aids and abets a pimp is also guilty of the crime. Some interesting examples are where a pimp’s wife helps her husband set up acts of prostitution, or where she helps her husband instruct and train aspiring prostitutes.

The abduction of the sabine women Pandering

Another colorful term is pandering, or procuring another into prostitution through violence, threats, promises, encouragement or inducement; or forcing another to remain as a prostitute by violence, threats, or promises; or to receive compensation to do either, is a felony.11

1 Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code
2 Section 647(b) of the California Penal Code
3 Sections 647(b), 1202.1, 1202.6 of the California Penal Code
4 Section 315 of the California Penal Code
5 Section 316 of the California Penal Code
6 Section 318 of the California Penal Code
7 Section 273e of the California Penal Code
8 Section 266 of the California Penal Code
9 Section 266g of the California Penal Code
10 Section 266h(a) of the California Penal Code
11 Sections 266i of the California Penal Code