Supervising Or Aiding A Prostitute Under Penal Code 653.23

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Definition Of Supervising Or Aiding A Prostitute

The crime of prostitution includes a number of companion offenses including Loitering with Intent to Commit Prostitution under PC 653.22, Pimping and Pandering under PC 266h and 266i, and Supervising or Aiding a Prostitute pursuant to Penal Code Section 653.23.

Supervising or aiding a prostitute is distinct from the Pandering and Pimping laws in that you do not have to be shown as having operated a prostitution ring, brothel or having a cadre of women working for your benefit. Any action you took to assist a prostitute to commit the act or if you derived some remuneration or compensation or other benefit from the act is enough to convict you.

Prostitution is any sexual or lewd act done between two people in which money or any other benefit is exchanged. Loitering is lingering in a public place with the intent to commit prostitution.

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How Does The Prosecutor Prove The Crime

The Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed any one of the following acts:

  • You directed, supervised, recruited or otherwise helped someone to commit prostitution or solicitation
  • You directed, supervised, recruited or otherwise helped someone else loiter for the purpose of committing prostitution
  • You collected or received any portion of the compensation the prostitute received by that person having engaged in prostitution

What Actions Constitute Supervising Or Aiding?

There are certain behaviors that law enforcement officers look for to nab persons suspected of supervising or aiding a prostitute.

One commonly recognized behavior is observing an individual trying to procure clients for the prostitute. At times, this individual may be pimping but more often it is someone working for the pimp who receives a cut of the money that the prostitute receives. This might consist of:

  • Attempting to convince potential clients who are often loitering in the area by asking if they would like to “meet” a person for sexual gratification and/or by advertising the prostitute’s sexual qualities to others
  • A person who watches or monitors the prostitute or person who is loitering for the purpose of committing prostitution from either a car or from a short distance
  • A person who stops or hails drivers and pedestrians with the intent to solicit or arrange for an act of prostitution between the motorist or pedestrian and another person who has been loitering with the intent to commit prostitution
  • Receiving cash or who appears to have received cash from another person who was loitering for the purpose of committing prostitution
  • The accused is someone who was previously observed to have acted in any of these behaviors in the past 6 months
  • The individual had been convicted in the past 5 years of any crime associated with prostitution including lewd conduct in public, pimping, pandering or loitering with intent to commit prostitution
  • Your wife, girlfriend or boyfriend is engaged in the act of prostitution and gives you money to buy yourself something

There is no requirement that you receive money from the prostitute or person loitering with such intent to be convicted. This is distinguished from pimping where you must be shown to be living off the prostitute’s earnings or at least partially so and the DA proves that an act of prostitution occurred. This allows law enforcement officers to immediately arrest anyone who engages in the above behavior regardless if they are pimping or were observed to have received money.

This code section is also distinguishable from the crime of pandering where you encourage someone to become a prostitute and then let others know that this individual is available for prostitution. Aiding or supervising a prostitute is helping procure customers for the prostitute or vice versa.

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Legal Defenses

Defenses to this crime often hinge on whether the DA can prove intent. Other common defenses are that the defendant had no knowledge that any money received from a particular person was derived from that person having committed prostitution, or that the defendant was entrapped.

Lack Of Intent

If you were loitering or lingering in an area known for prostitution activities, you should have a credible explanation for your presence. If you are observed to be just watching or waiting for a ride somewhere, you may be able to demonstrate lack of intent to aid or supervise a prostitute. If you have no prior record and are just observing the activities for a few minutes before moving on, then there may be a lack of intent. But if you do have prior convictions for a prostitution crime and/or are seen constantly stopping people, gesturing, introducing pedestrians to known prostitutes, then you may have a difficult time proving lack of intent.

Mistake Of Fact

Along with intent is knowledge that the money you may have received from a prostitute was derived from earnings from those activities. If you did not know the person was engaged in prostitution and were told it came from a legitimate source, then you could allege this defense. If a reasonable person would have inferred or you should have reasonably known the person was currently a prostitute, then this defense would likely fail.


Police officers may be too aggressive trapping people into committing a crime that they otherwise would not have committed. One example is badgering or using extraordinary means, threats or influence on someone to pay for sex. In this example, the undercover officer may have been rebuffed by the potential customer who told the officer he was not interested. But the female undercover officer was very provocative and kept lowering her price until the defendant relented and agreed to pay for sex.

In the context of aiding and supervising a prostitute, an undercover female officer may use begging, an offer of free sex or a sad story to entice someone who has repeatedly refused to help her into finally agreeing to procure customers or to at least watch out for her safety while she prowls the street.


A conviction under PC 653.22 is a misdemeanor. You face:

FineUp to $1,000
JailUp to 6 months county jail
  • Civil fine up to $2,500 if a health care provider is convicted for committing the offense in the workplace and up to $5000 for subsequent offenses
  • Possible loss of professional license for a health care provider if the provider committed the offense in the workplace

Health care providers include massage therapists who may be more likely than other health care providers to engage in this behavior in order to increase business or as a side feature.

Record Expungement For Supervising Or Aiding A Prostitute

Penal Code 653.23 is charged only as a misdemeanor and so qualifies you to obtain an expungement of your record under PC 1203.4. An expungement does not totally erase your record though any members of the general public including private employers, landlords or anyone else not associated with the government will see that you have no criminal conviction when a criminal background check is performed.

Although a misdemeanor conviction does not have the stigma of a felony nor severely restrict you from qualifying for certain public benefits or limit your civil rights, employers and landlords may still consider it in determining whether you get hired, promoted or lease you an apartment.

Any criminal conviction could be used to enhance your penalties if you receive a subsequent conviction. For example, if you were to be convicted of a fourth DUI in 10 years, it counts towards charging you with a felony DUI, regardless if a prior one was expunged. Other subsequent misdemeanor convictions can also enhance your sentence if convicted of another similar misdemeanor.

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Related Offenses

Pimping—PC 266h

If you knew the other person was a prostitute, you can be convicted of pimping for the following acts:

  1. You receive money from the prostitute who supports you or even partially supports you
  2. You asked for and received money from soliciting customers for the prostitute

This includes receiving a loan from another person who “employs” the prostitute so you can pay your bills.

Although the common impression of a pimp is someone who runs a prostitution ring or brothel, you can be convicted of pimping if you are a massage therapist or own such a business and arrange for massage customers to receive oral sex, intercourse or other sexual activity for a price and then receive a portion or cut.

This is a felony with a sentence of:

  • Formal probation
  • State prison time of 3, 4 or 6 years and/or
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Additional fine up to $5000 if an economic benefit was derived  or the victim sustained any losses

Pandering—PC 266i

Pandering is engaging in any of the following acts:

  1. Procuring or encouraging someone to be a prostitute
  2. Using threats or promises to another to persuade or induce them to become a prostitute
  3. Making arrangements for someone to become prostitute at a brothel or house where prostitution activities are allowed
  4. Making promises or threats to persuade or induce a prostitute to remain at the brothel or house where prostitution activities are taking place and allowed
  5. Use of fraud, trickery, duress or your position of authority to persuade or procure someone to become a prostitute, to go to a place where prostitution is committed or to leave or enter the state to engage in prostitution
  6. Receiving, giving or agreeing to receive compensation for persuading or procuring, or attempting to persuade or procure, another person to become a prostitute or to leave or enter California to engage in prostitution

Pandering is a felony and you face:

  • Formal probation
  • State prison time of 3, 4 or 6 years and/or
  • A fine up to $10,000
  • Additional fine up to $5000 if an economic benefit was derived  or the victim sustained any losses
  • If a non-US citizen, it is a crime of moral turpitude and you face possible deportation or an inability to become a permanent resident or US citizen

Prostitution and Solicitation-PC 647(b)

Prostitution occurs between two people, one of whom agrees to engage in sexual acts in exchange for compensation. Soliciting is persuading or encouraging another person to engage in the act.

It is a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of informal probation, jail time up to 6 months, and/or a fine up to $1000.

Lewd Conduct in Public—PC 647(a)

You need not have received compensation to commit a lewd act so long as you touched an intimate part of yourself or that of another person in public for sexual arousal when you were aware of or should have been aware that there were other people in the immediate area who would be offended by such behavior.

It is a misdemeanor with a sentence of informal probation, county jail of up to 6 months, and/or a fine up to $1000.

Loitering with Intent to Commit Prostitution—PC 653.22

Loitering is lingering or delaying your moving from a public place where you have no lawful purpose and have the intent to commit prostitution. You need not have committed prostitution but your behavior in this regard is sufficient to convict you. It is strong evidence of your intent if you were lingering in a place where prostitution is known to be committed and/or you have a prior record of committing lewd acts in public or for a prostitution offense, or had been observed on prior instances of loitering with intent to commit prostitution.

It is a misdemeanor with a possible sentence of informal probation, county jail up to 6 months and/or a fine up to $1000.

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