Johnson v. Commonwealth (P)

The defendant was properly convicted for pandering and of sex trafficking to receive money. The case turned on the trial court’s finding that a witness credibly testified about her work as a prostitute for the defendant. Much of her testimony conflicted with the defendant’s account, but when such conflicts occur the appellate court must discard the evidence of the accused in conflict with that of the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth’s evidence shows that the defendant was with the witness when she posted an advertisement for prostitution; he retrieved money from her hotel room that she’d earned from prostitution; and police found him in the hotel room where she said her pimp was. He had almost $4,000 cash in his possession. From this evidence, a reasonable factfinder could conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly received money from a person engaged in prostitution.

There was also evidence that the defendant drove the witness in from another state before assisting her in advertising for prostitution. The totality of evidence permits a reasonable conclusion that the defendant, with the intent to receive money, at the very least encouraged – if not solicited, invited, recruited, or otherwise caused – the witness to engage in prostitution.

Notwithstanding Carr v. Commonwealth – the court’s only prior precedent as to this relatively new statute – the text of Code § 18.2-357.1(A) does not establish threats of violence or actual use of violence as necessary elements for a conviction. It similarly doesn’t require the accused to have been the sole cause or the original cause for the person to engage in prostitution.


Johnson v. Commonwealth (P), No. 2089-17-2, Jan. 15, 2019. CAV (Beales) from Henrico (Yoffy).

Categories: Court of Appeals of Virginia, Opinions, Published


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