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Pimp Law: Are You Offering Pimp Services if the Woman Is Already 'in the Game'?

There is such a thing as California pimp law, and on March 8 the California Supreme Court will hear argument in a case that will help define it.

The Associated Press reports that in 2007, Jomo Zambia was in his car at a "notorious intersection" in the San Fernando Valley known for its prostitutes. He allegedly asked a woman he believed to be a prostitute to enter his car, explained he was a pimp, and offered his pimp services, "which included providing housing and clothing, if she turned over all of her money to him."

The prostitute was actually an LAPD Officer working undercover, and Zambia was arrested and later convicted of the crime of pandering, as one who "induces, persuades or encourages another person to become a prostitute."  California's highest court will now examine whether a defendant like Zambia can be convicted of encouraging another person to become a prostitute when that person already appears to be working as a prostitute. Or, in AP writer Paul Elias' words, the court will define "what makes a pimp in California."

Zambia's lawyer, Vanessa Place, argues that the law is directed at people who recruit innocent victims into the "game," and not at people who are simply attempting to persuade an already working prostitute to "change management." The California attorney  general's office counters that there is "no way lawmakers intended to let suspects like Zambia off the hook."

According to The Associated Press, there is some precedent in Zambia's favor. In 2009, a lower appellate court "reluctantly" reversed a conviction because "[i]f the Legislature had wanted a more broadly applicable provision, it could have easily replaced the phrase 'become a prostitute' with the phrase 'engage in prostitution.'"

Posted by Bruce Carton on March 1, 2011 at 04:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (7)

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