Houston Criminal Defense Blog

Sex Trafficking Laws in Texas


Houston Sex Trafficking Charges

The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution outlawing slavery was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865. One hundred fifty years later, law enforcement agencies in Houston and throughout the state of Texas are still enforcing laws meant to combat active sex trafficking enterprises.
Of the 214 cases of human trafficking reported in Texas in 2015, 164 of them involved sex trafficking as it is defined under state and federal laws. Police and federal law enforcement agencies have committed manpower and resources to cracking down on sex trafficking in Texas, but this has created an environment in which false accusations and less than conclusive evidence of the commission of a criminal act can jeopardize your freedom and affect your future.

Sex trafficking activities in Texas?

Trafficking of persons is a crime in Texas. It is defined as transporting, enticing or harboring another person with the intent that the victim be forced into providing services or labor. Human trafficking is unlike human smuggling which occurs when someone is paid by another person to help them illegally cross an international border.
State law in Houston lists the following forms of conduct as prohibited under the category of trafficking in persons:
  • Transport, entice, recruit or harbor another person with the intent forcing that person to engage in labor or services
  • Benefiting or participating from prostitution, the promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution
  • Engaging in activities that would force a trafficked child to engage in sexual activities
You might not set out to engage in sex trafficking, but the legislature used language that is broad in scope and encompasses a wide-range of activities involving another person who might be forced to engage in a sexual activity, including:
  • Recruiting
  • Harboring
  • Transporting
  • Providing
  • Obtaining

These activities may happen anywhere, but some of the more common locations associated with sex trafficking might include:

  • Massage parlors and spas
  • Modeling studios or agencies
  • Topless bars
  • Hotels

Penalties for Houston sex trafficking

A conviction for sex trafficking is a serious criminal offense that carries with it hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences. Penalties increase if you have a prior criminal record or have a prior conviction for sex trafficking. They will also increase if the charges involve a child as one of the victims.

Sex trafficking that involves a child is a felony of the first degree that is punishable by imprisonment for at least five years and fines up to $10,000. The maximum prison sentence can be as long as 99 years to life. Even if none of the victims are children, you are still facing a felony of the second degree that can include imprisonment and fines.

Not to be ignored are the consequences that a conviction of sex trafficking can bring to your personal life and career. As a convicted felon, you may find certain jobs or professions closed to you because of professional licensing requirements. A felony conviction will also affect your right to possess or own firearms.

Depending upon the charge to which you plead guilty or are convicted after trial, you might be forced to register as a sex offender. Being labeled as a sex offender limits where you can live, restricts with whom you may have contact, and subjects you to public humiliation and embarrassment.

Defenses to sex trafficking crimes in Houston

False allegations and mistaken identity are common occurrences in situations involving crimes such as sex trafficking. A defense strategy to challenge the evidence offered by the prosecution might include an attack on the procedures used by law enforcement agencies to search for and to seize evidence.

Computers, external storage devices, DVDs and other evidence may not be seized by police unless they have probable cause to believe that they contain evidence of criminal activities. A defense attorney knowledgeable about sex trafficking will know how to recognize mistakes in the methods used by investigators. Those mistakes can mean the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. They might also prove valuable in convincing prosecutors to reduce the charges or offer a reduced sentence in exchange for a plea.

A Houston sex trafficking attorney might help

One thing to bear in mind if you are accused of committing crimes involving sex trafficking is that a criminal charge is merely an allegation of wrongdoing. It is not a conviction. Even though charges have been filed against you, a Houston criminal defense attorney will make certain that your receive a fair trial at which prosecutors will be forced to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Have you been accused of being involved in human trafficking? It is vital that you establish defense as soon as possible to protect yourself. Call the Law Offices of Billy Skinner today at (713) 600-7777. Billy Skinner is dedicated to providing individuals with an aggressive legal defense.

Photo Imagens Evangélicas | Used under Creative Commons image attribution license 2.0