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SAN FRANCISCO — The California Supreme Court today mulled a logical puzzle about recruiting prostitutes. Or, more precisely, what was required to convict someone under the state’s pandering statute, which makes it illegal to encourage someone to become a prostitute.

Vanessa Place, a Los Angeles criminal appellate lawyer, argued to the court today that the answer turns on the definition of “become.” If a pimp approaches somebody he thinks already trades sex for money, Place argued, he can’t be convicted of the crime. In the case of Place’s client, the person he approached was actually an undercover officer.

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