By strict definition, pandering is the act of providing what someone else needs or requires. As it relates to the law, pandering is the act of recruiting prostitutes, and soliciting clients for prostitutes. Pandering is illegal, as is prostitution, in all states, save for portions of Nevada. In many jurisdictions, the words pandering and “pimping” are used interchangeably, as both refer to the activities of an individual who operates, directs, and profits from the business of prostitution. To explore this concept, consider the following pandering definition.

Definition of Pandering


  1. The act of recruiting prostitutes, and providing clients for prostitutes.
  2. The act of profiting from the weakness of others.
  3. The act of brokering deals between prostitutes and clients.


1325-1375        Middle English

Pandering and the Pimp

Most people know that prostitution is against the law, but many do not consider that other related activities are also illegal. A pimp is an individual who exploits prostitutes, and facilitates the act of prostitution, in order to benefit financially from the sex trade. Pimping and pandering are considered to be the same crime in some states, but have slightly different definitions in others. In either case, pimping and pandering are felony offenses in most states, carrying with them harsher penalties than the misdemeanor charge of prostitution.

For example, if a perpetrator convinces a woman to work for him as a street prostitute, he has engaged in pandering. When he takes a portion of her profits, he has engaged in pimping. Pimping and pandering laws vary by state, and in order for an individual to be charged with either crime, he or she must have engaged in certain specific acts related to the prostitution trade, as defined by each state’s laws.

The Elements of Pandering and Pimping

Generally speaking, pimping refers to the receipt of a prostitute’s earnings, whether directly or indirectly. Pandering, on the other hand, refers to the procurement, or recruitment, of an individual to be used for prostitution.

Elements of Pandering

In order for a person to be charged with the crime of pandering, the perpetrator must engage in certain acts, including:

  • The recruitment of a person for the purpose of working as a prostitute. In most states, this includes a broad range of behaviors, including securing a location for prostitutes to provide services, threatening a person with violence in order to force him or her to become a sex worker, or giving a gift to someone in order to persuade him or her to become a sex worker.
  • A specific intent to encourage, promote, or facilitate prostitution. The perpetrator must have intentionally, and with intent, recruited or coerced someone to work and earn money by providing sex, or provided services to facilitate prostitution.

For example:

John owns a business, and is aware that Hector is renting his upstairs rooms for his prostitutes. John has no dealings with the prostitutes, or with any of the clients who accompany them. John is not liable for pandering, as he had no part in operating the prostitution ring. Hector, however, has recruited and manages a group of prostitutes, and has rented John’s upstairs rooms to provide a location for them to bring their clients. Hector is guilty of pandering.

Elements of Pimping

The elements of pimping differ than those of pandering, in that it involves the actual receipt of money from a prostitute’s sex services. In order for a person to be charged with pimping, the perpetrator must have received a portion of a prostitute’s earnings. This may be either directly, as a pimp who brokers liaisons between prostitutes and clients for a percentage, or indirectly, as a landlord who knowingly accepts a prostitute’s earnings as rent.

Pandering Laws

Pimping and pandering laws target, not the prostitutes or their clients, but those who promote, exploit, and benefit from the sex trade. Pandering laws target individuals who solicit money from, advertise for, or provide other services to facilitate the sex trade. This includes recruiting people to work as prostitutes, advertising or otherwise promoting their prostitutes’ services, and providing a placed for the prostitutes to ply their services.

In certain areas in the state of Nevada, prostitution is legal, though pandering laws attempt to discourage individuals from becoming involved in promoting and procuring for the sex industry. Nevada’s laws regarding prostitution are highly regulated, requiring registration, and regular medical examinations and testing of prostitutes.

Penalties for Pandering

The penalties for pandering vary by jurisdiction, and criminal charges often depend on the exact circumstances surrounding the crime. Generally, penalties for pandering and pimping are more severe than those for prostitution, as pandering and pimping are considered felonies, where prostitution is frequently a misdemeanor.

A conviction for pandering or pimping may subject the perpetrator to a prison sentence of as long as 10 years for each charge. Penalties for pandering may also include hefty fines. If the pandering charge involves the use of a minor in prostitution, the penalties are much more severe, and the offender may be required to register as a sex offender for life.


Prostitution is known as the world’s the oldest profession, and its modern form can be seen in the operation of brothels and escort services, as well as individuals working as call girls or prostitutes. Prostitution is illegal in every state, except for certain portions of Nevada. Prostitution laws make it illegal for anyone to offer, engage in, or agree to engage in any sexual activity for compensation. Operating a house of prostitution or escort service, soliciting prostitution, and arranging acts of prostitution are also illegal.

Prostitution typically involves a client, also known as a “John,” and the individual selling sexual services. The agreement made between two people does not have to be specific or in writing, as their actions are often enough to demonstrate their intent. Solicitation of prostitution occurs the minute a client agrees to pay for the prostitute’s services.

For example:

Bob is approached by “Linda,” a prostitute, and he agrees to pay her $200 for sexual intercourse. Bob is immediately arrested, as Linda is working undercover for the local police department. Even though no money exchanged hands, and no sexual activity actually occurred, Bob can be charged with solicitation of prostitution, as he has shown an intent to engage in prostitution.

Pandering Cases

Pimping, pandering, and prostitution are widespread problems, and pandering cases plague the court system in the U.S. on a daily basis. Some pandering cases, however, are elevated in the perpetrator’s complete disregard for his victims, subjecting the perpetrator to very harsh sentences.

Pimp on the Pike

“Pimp on the Pike” was the name given to a Rockville, Washington man named Nahshon Kornegay, who was charged with crimes related to his operation of a prostitution ring in Maryland, Virginia. Kornegay shuttled homeless women from hotel to hotel in Maryland, coercing them to engage in prostitution by threatening them. As the women were afraid of law enforcement, the victims kept Kornegay’s secret.

Kornegay used classified ads and other websites to advertise the services of his prostitutes. In 2012, a man staying at a Rockville hotel notified police that he had been solicited to engage in prostitution at the establishment. Kornegay was arrested, but he continued to act as pimp and panderer, even while in jail after being convicted of human trafficking, benefitting from human trafficking, prostitution, and attempted distribution of a controlled substance, awaiting sentencing.

Kornegay was sentenced to 20.5 years in prison, with 10 of those years suspended. This means Kornegay is expected to serve 10.5 years before being released on parole.

Toughest Federal Penalty for Sex Trafficking

As one of only a few people ever tried for pimping and pandering in federal court as a sex trafficker, 32-year old Datqunn Sawyer was sentenced harshly in April 2012, after the court heard evidence on how the man forced young girls to become prostitutes over the course of several years. One woman in particular testified under oath at the trial that Sawyer controlled her every move, and had even branded her with a tattoo to mark her as his territory. The woman, who was 19 years old at the time of her testimony, was only 12 years old when Sawyer began using her as a prostitute. Six other woman also testified against the pimp, several of whom had even given birth to Sawyer’s children.

The three-hour sentencing hearing ended with the judge sentencing Sawyer to a staggering 50 years in federal prison, becoming the Chicago federal court’s most harshly sentenced sex trafficker to date. While Sawyer’s friends and family were shocked by the severe sentence, the judge found it necessary to impose a strict sentence due to the age of the girls at the time Sawyer forced them into prostitution. The judge also believed a severe punishment would deter future sex traffickers.

Related Legal Terms and Issues

  • Criminal Act – An act committed by an individual that is in violation of the law, or that poses a threat to the public.
  • Hearing – A proceeding before the court at which an issue of fact or law is heard, evidence presented, and a decision made.
  • Intent – A resolve to perform an act for a specific purpose; a resolution to use a particular means to a specific end.
  • Jurisdiction – The legal authority to hear legal cases and make judgments; the geographical region of authority to enforce justice.
  • Liable – Responsible by law; to be held legally answerable for an act or omission.
  • Perpetrator – A person who commits an illegal or criminal act.
  • Restitution – The restoration of rights or property previously taken away or surrendered; reparation made by giving compensation for loss or injury caused by wrongdoing.
  • Sex Offender – A person convicted of a crime involving sex, including rape, molestation, and production or distribution of child pornography.
  • Trial – A formal presentation of evidence before a judge and jury for the purpose of determining guilt or innocence in a criminal case, or to make a determination in a civil matter.
  • Victim – A person who is injured, killed, or otherwise harmed as a result of a criminal act, accident, or other event.

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