Coercion into Prostitution

  1. Introduction

    The victim of the nonconsensual publication of intimate photos or videos may press charges against the person who published the material, if it resulted in the victim receiving solicitations for paid sex. Alternatively, this statute may be appropriate in situations where a perpetrator demands sex in exchange for not posting the victim’s intimate images online.

  2. Text of the Statute

    California Penal Code § 266a:

    “Every person who, within this state, takes any person against his or her will and without his or her consent, or with his or her consent procured by fraudulent inducement or misrepresentation, for the purpose of prostitution, as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 647, is punishable by imprisonment in the state prison, and a fine not exceeding two thousand dollars ($2,000).”

  3. Cases

    Research is ongoing.

  4. Practice Pointer

    While the case law does not specifically address whether one solicitation would be enough to constitute coercion into prostitution, it appears likely that it would since neither the statute nor the case law mention a required number of solicitations. Neither the case law nor the California Penal Code mentions that a person must become a “career prostitute” in order for paid sex to be considered prostitution.1 “Prostitution” under Cal. Penal Code § 647(b), means “any lewd act between persons for money or other consideration.”2 Therefore, according to the statute, one act between persons is sufficient to constitute prostitution. Furthermore, § 647(b) provides that either a prostitute or a potential client can engage in solicitation for paid sex. In People v. Mandell, the key case illustrating the use of Cal. Penal Code 266a, the fact that the defendants had induced the victim by fraudulent means to enter into prostitution was seen as an ongoing offense of Section 266a.3 Since the situation of the young woman in Mandell, in which she was forced into prostitution with many men, was viewed as an ongoing violation of 266a, a one-time incident of coerced prostitution would likely be seen as a one-time prosecutable offense.

  1. People v. Mandell, 95 P.2d 704 (Cal. Ct. App. 1939) (a young woman was induced into prostitution by promises from the defendants to find her a job as a waitress). 

  2. Cal. Penal Code § 647(b) (West 2011). 

  3. See generally Mandell, 95 P.2d at 706-07.