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Penal Code 266h - California Pimping Laws


Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerPenal Code 266(h) makes it against the law to be involved in pimping, which means making money from someone else’s work as a prostitute. This can include managing a brothel or offering protection or services to prostitutes in exchange for a portion of their earnings. Pimping is considered a serious crime in California and can result in a felony charge, with a punishment of up to 6 years in jail or prison.

266h: (a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), any person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, lives or derives support or maintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of the person’s prostitution, or from money loaned or advanced to or charged against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or who solicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, is guilty of pimping, a felony, and shall be punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.

(b) Any person who, knowing another person is a prostitute, lives or derives support or maintenance in whole or in part from the earnings or proceeds of the person’s prostitution, or from money loaned or advanced to or charged against that person by any keeper or manager or inmate of a house or other place where prostitution is practiced or allowed, or who solicits or receives compensation for soliciting for the person, when the prostitute is a minor, is guilty of pimping a minor, a felony, and shall be punishable as follows:

(1) If the person engaged in prostitution is a minor 16 years of age or older, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, four, or six years.

(2) If the person engaged in prostitution is under 16 years of age, the offense is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison for three, six, or eight years.


To secure a conviction under California’s pimping law, the prosecutor needs to prove the following:

  • The defendant knew that a specific person was engaged in prostitution, and
  • One of the following conditions was met:
    • The money earned by the prostitute was used to benefit the defendant, either partially or entirely,
    • The money loaned to the prostitute, by someone running a brothel, was used to benefit the defendant, either partially or entirely, or
    • The defendant asked for or received payment from the prostitute for soliciting customers for prostitution.

According to Penal Code 647b PC, a “prostitute” is someone who performs sexual intercourse or any lewd act with another person in exchange for money or compensation. A “lewd act” refers to physical contact involving the genitals, buttocks, or female breast of either the prostitute or customer, with the purpose of sexual arousal.

Under this law, “solicit” means to tempt, lure, or attempt to obtain something from someone.


A violation of Penal Code 266h is considered a felony offense. The potential penalties for this crime include:

  • Incarceration in jail or state prison for a maximum of six years, or
  • Being placed on felony probation.

It is important to note that if a defendant is convicted of pimping a minor who is under the age of 18, the consequences are more severe:

  • They can face a sentence of up to eight years in state prison, and
  • They will be required to register as a California sex offender for life.


Being convicted under this law can have adverse immigration consequences.

Under United States immigration law, specific types of criminal convictions can result in:

  • Deportation of non-citizens, and
  • Non-citizens being deemed “inadmissible.”

One category of crimes that can lead to deportation or being marked as inadmissible is “aggravated felonies.”

In other words, if it is determined that the accused has committed an aggravated felony based on the evidence, they may face deportation or be marked as inadmissible.


If a person is convicted of this crime, they may be eligible for expungement if they:

    • Successfully complete probation, or
    • Complete their jail term, whichever is applicable.

Even if a probation term is violated, there is still a possibility of getting the offense expunged, although this would be at the discretion of the judge.

According to Penal Code 1203.4, an expungement relieves an individual from almost all penalties and disabilities associated with the conviction.


Defendants facing a pimping charge have various legal defenses they can utilize. Three common defenses include:

  • Entrapment: In cases where individuals are arrested as a result of an undercover sting operation, charges should be dismissed if the officer induced the defendant to commit the crime. This defense of entrapment applies when the police use pressure, harassment, fraud, or threats to persuade a person into committing the offense. It is a valid defense if the accused can demonstrate that they only committed the crime due to the entrapment.
  • Falsely Accused: This defense is often used when the accused was involved in a romantic relationship with a prostitute. In such instances, the prostitute may falsely accuse the defendant of pimping either out of revenge or to minimize their own criminal liability. This defense can be effective if the accused can provide evidence showing that the prostitute lied.
  • No Knowledge: According to Penal Code 266h, a defendant can only be found guilty if they had knowledge of receiving money from a prostitute. Thus, it serves as a defense for the accused to demonstrate that they lacked this knowledge.


  • PanderingPenal Code 266i PC
  • Supervising or aiding a prostitute – Penal Code 653.23 PC
  • Human trafficking – Penal Code 236.1 PC


Facing a pimping case is a very serious matter, as convictions under PC 266h are considered felonies and come with harsh consequences such as lengthy prison sentences, a strike on your record, and potentially requiring registration as a sex offender. The impact of such a conviction can extend far beyond immediate custody and have lasting effects on your life.

In these challenging situations, having a skilled attorney is crucial.  Our PC 266h attorney, Cyrus Tabibnia, at Tabibnia Law Firm, has a successful track record of defending individuals against charges under PC 266h. He has a deep understanding of the complexities involved in these cases and is committed to mounting a strong defense on your behalf.

If you or someone you know has been accused of pimping or a related crime, seek expert legal assistance as soon as possible. Cyrus Tabibnia, a Los Angeles sex crime defense attorney, has extensive experience representing clients facing such charges. Cyrus is available 24/7 to ensure that you have the support you require during this critical period. He can provide you with valuable guidance, answer all your questions, and create the most effective defense strategy for your specific case. No matter how serious the charges may be, you don’t have to face them alone. Call the Los Angeles Pimping and Pandering Lawyer at Tabibnia Law Office today to schedule your free consultation at 866-713-2159.

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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