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Name: People v. Cason
Case #: E047440
Court: CA Court of Appeal
District 4 DCA
Division: 2
Opinion Date: 12/07/2009

A prostitute is not considered an accomplice to her pimp such that her testimony has to be corroborated at trial. A jury convicted appellant of two counts of pimping (Pen. Code, § 266h) and two counts of pandering (Pen. Code, § 266i) based in part on the testimony of two women who worked for him, Q. and D. Appellant argued that his conviction for pimping and pandering a third woman, P., had to be reversed for insufficient evidence because she had not testified at trial, and the testimony of Q. and D. had to be discounted because they were “accomplices” and “coconspirators” whose testimony could not be used to corroborate each other. The appellate court rejected the argument, noting is has been long established that a woman exploited as a prostitute is not an accomplice of the person who exploits her. (See e.g, People v. Berger (1960) 185 Cal.App.2d 16.) So, the corroboration requirement for accomplice testimony does not apply. But, regardless, their testimony was in fact corroborated in this case by the investigating officers.
The crime of pandering “covers acts encouraging ‘even an established prostitute to alter her business relations.'” Relying on People v. Wagner (2009) 170 Cal.App.4th 499, which held it was impossible to solicit a woman who was currently a prostitute to become one, appellant argued his pandering convictions had to be reversed because both Q. and P. were already actively seeking work as prostitutes when he asked them to come work for him. The appellate court disagreed with Wagner that because of the use of the word “become” in the statute, a prostitute cannot be pandered. The act of encouraging a person who is already a prostitute to change her business relations still shows an intent to promote prostitution, which is what the Legislature was trying to combat when it enacted the statute. But in any event, as to Q., the court noted that while she had posted her first ad on the internet when appellant saw the ad and offered her work as a prostitute, she had not yet engaged in any acts of prostitution at this time. The court held that the act of contacting a person who has placed an ad for potential prostitution on the Internet and recruiting her to become an actual prostitute constitutes pandering.