Pandering vs. Trafficking

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Pandering, pimping, and sex trafficking are all third-party sex crimes that involve the inducement of another person into sexual activity for commercial purposes. Each charge is different, with varying penalties under Nebraska state law. However, it’s not unusual for an individual who is charged with one of these crimes to be charged with the others as well since there is some overlap between the offenses.

Pandering charges stem from a situation where the defendant is accused of encouraging another person to become or remain a prostitute, who then takes part in sexual activity in exchange for money or other material goods, including drugs. Although pandering is sometimes confused with pimping and they often go hand-in-hand, there are distinct differences between the two.

The main difference is that pimping includes the exchange of money from or for a prostitute’s work. While prostitution and soliciting a prostitute can be charged under Nebraska state law as either misdemeanor or felony offenses, depending on the circumstances, pandering, pimping and sex trafficking are charged as felonies.

A type of human trafficking, sex trafficking occurs when a person forces another into providing sexual acts in exchange for commercial gain. Sex trafficking crimes are very often confused with pandering and pimping, which are typically associated with a consenting prostitute who is over the age of 18.

If you’ve been falsely accused of pandering, pimping, or trafficking, the legal defense team at Berry Law has experience fighting criminal charges and may be able to help.

Pandering

When one person aids another person by influencing, encouraging, or persuading them to become or remain a prostitute, they are guilty of pandering in the state of Nebraska. This influence may come by way of threats, promises, intimidation, violence, or fraudulent means to recruit or make the individual accessible for commercial sex acts.

The most important distinction is that pandering doesn’t have to involve an exchange of money. It’s simply about convincing and persuading the victim to participate in commercial sex. Even when a panderer doesn’t receive any compensation for his or her role, they can still be found guilty of pandering as long as they encouraged the act of prostitution. 

For example, a high school student who recruits other students to work for a pimp or commit commercial sex acts can be charged with pandering, even if he or she isn’t compensated. The encouragement to participate can be violent or simply verbal encouragement to proceed.

Nebraska Revised Statute 28-802 defines pandering as:

  • Enticement of another person to become a prostitute, or the procuring or harboring of someone for or in a house of prostitution, brothel, or other establishment where prostitution is practiced.
  • Encouraging, persuading, procuring or enticing any person to come into or leave the state of Nebraska for the purpose of prostitution.
  • Receiving or giving, or agreeing to receive or give, money or other items of value for attempting to secure any person to become a prostitute or commit an act of prostitution.

Pandering is a Class II felony in the state of Nebraska, punishable by a minimum of one year imprisonment and up to 50 years behind bars. In cases that involve a minor, the laws are much harsher.

The prosecutor in a pandering case must prove that the defendant specifically intended for the victim to become involved in commercial sexual activity. Merely discussing prostitution without intent to further the act may be a defense against pandering charges.

Pimping

While pandering doesn’t have to involve an exchange of money, pimping always involves a transaction of money or other material items for sex. It can include situations where the pimp finds customers, sometimes known as johns, for a prostitute and then later collects money on his or her behalf. A pimp may also play no role in connecting a john or customer to a prostitute, but still expects to receive money for the prostitute’s services.

A person accused of pimping may advertise a prostitute’s services by print, word of mouth, electronically, or at a house of prostitution or brothel. He or she takes part or all of the money that a prostitute is paid to perform sexual acts, usually through the use of force, fear, or coercion. A pimp may also deny a prostitute access to housing, clothing or food in order to maintain control over their victim.

In Nebraska, both prostitution itself and solicitation of prostitution are illegal, so anyone found to be selling or buying sex in the state can face criminal charges. Nebraska Revised Statute 28-801 explains the solicitation and prostitution laws for the state, as well as outlines the penalties for those offenses.

  • Class I misdemeanor- Used to charge individuals with no prior solicitation or prostitution convictions. Carries a fine of at least $250, and up to $1,000. The court may also order probation, which can include conditions like attendance and completion of a mental health and substance abuse assessment and the satisfactory completion of an educational program on the effects of prostitution.
  • Class IV felony- In cases where a minor is involved in prostitution or solicitation violations, or when the defendant has one or more previous prostitution or solicitation convictions, felony charges apply in the state of Nebraska. The penalties include a fine of at least $500, up to $10,000. Probation, assessment, and educational programs may also be ordered, and depending on the situation, a defendant could face prison time.

Law enforcement has become increasingly aware of the number of young people who are being forced into commercial sex situations here in the United States. Many of these individuals are runaways, suffer from substance abuse issues, or mental illness. As a result, police have begun to focus less on the crime of prostitution and more on holding traffickers and their customers accountable instead, while helping trafficked individuals get the help and resources they need.

Pandering and pimping cases often overlap with human trafficking violations, and additional charges may be brought against participants who purchase sex or who are accused of selling and commercially benefitting from the sexual favors of another person. 

Human Trafficking

Sex trafficking can occur when someone deprives the personal liberty of an individual against his or her will. This is done with the intent to benefit monetarily by selling that person to perform sexual acts for others. It can involve pandering or pimping of a voluntary participant to begin with and lead to involuntary servitude.

For example, a pimp may groom an individual by building a personal relationship with him or her, and then convince them to engage in sex acts with others. As the situation progresses, if the pimp holds the victim against their will or uses intimidation or other means to do so, the pimp could be guilty of human trafficking as well.

Human trafficking as its portrayed in the movies, complete with cross-border abductions and foreign buyers, is often much different in real life. Domestic trafficking is more subtle, despite the image most people may have when they think of this type of sexual exploitation. Traffickers may use intimidation, housing insecurity, or drug addiction to control their victims rather than holding them physically hostage.

Many law enforcement agencies now employ task forces and receive special funding to round up and arrest human traffickers. These sting operations often focus on electronic communication between traffickers and customers. Forcing another person to engage in sexually explicit performances, such as stripping or to pose or perform for the purpose of creating and selling pornographic material also falls under the umbrella of sex trafficking.

Nebraska Revised Statute 28-830 outlines the conditions necessary for a person to be charged with human trafficking and the penalties if convicted:

  • Sex trafficking is the recruiting, enticing, harboring, transporting, providing, soliciting or obtaining by any means or knowingly attempting to engage in trafficking a person who is 18 years of age or older for the purpose of having them engage without their consent in commercial sex acts, sexually explicit performances, or the production of pornography.
  • Sex trafficking is a Class II felony, punishable by a prison sentence between one and 50 years. Separate charges and penalties apply for those accused of trafficking a minor.
  • Trafficking a minor in the state of Nebraska is a Class IB felony, which carries a penalty of a minimum 20 years or up to life in prison, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Consent is not a defense when a trafficking victim is a minor.

In human trafficking cases, the prosecutor must be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly participated in the crime of trafficking and attempted to further the trafficking of which he or she is accused. In cases involving victims over age 18, unknowing participation may be a defense if the accused can prove that he or she was unaware of the exploitation of another.

Felony pandering, pimping and human trafficking are serious charges. A conviction has the potential to alter the course of future employment, housing and financial opportunities. If you’re facing felony sex trafficking charges, hiring an experienced Omaha criminal defense lawyer is the wise thing to do. He or she can help review your options and develop a plan to defend you against these accusations. Call today to schedule your confidential consultation.

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