Human trafficking has been an ongoing issue in Texas. In 2017, the National Human Trafficking Hotline reported 792 human trafficking cases in the state. This made Texas one of the largest contributors to human trafficking in the nation. The mounting pressure to catch traffickers has caused the District Attorney’s Office to aggressively prosecute each human trafficking case.
The term “human trafficking” is frequently referred to as a modern-day form of slavery. People who were forced into labor, sexual slavery, commercial sexual exploitation, marriages or other forms of servitude would be considered victims of human trafficking. Since Texas shares an international border, it’s become a hub for human traffickers.
If you or someone you know has been charged with human trafficking, it’s crucial you gain legal representation. The sooner you begin charting out your defense, the better your chances will be for reduced or dismissed charges.
Attorney for Human Trafficking in Houston, Texas
The shame associated with human trafficking could influence the jury’s decision, making the charge challenging to defend. It’s imperative you have quality legal representation before moving forward. Find that today by calling the attorneys at [frim]. We can provide a sturdy defense for you by collecting evidence, filling motions and using our extensive resources.
Call (713) 224-5529 to schedule a free consultation with an experienced lawyer. [frim] accepts clients accused of sex crimes throughout the greater Harris County area including Houston, Bellaire, Tomball and West University Place.
Overview of Human Trafficking Charges in Texas
- Human Trafficking Under Texas Law
- Penalties for Human Trafficking in Texas
- Texas Law for Continuous Trafficking
- Signs of Human Trafficking
- Additional Resources
Human Trafficking Under Texas Law
It’s unlawful to force another person into labor, services or any type of enslavement. The Texas Penal Code § 20A.02 states you’re committing human trafficking if you:
- Traffic a person or people into forced services or labor;
- Benefit from a human trafficking venture, which does include receiving services from a victim of human trafficking;
- Traffics a person or people by coercion, force, fraud and forces the victim to do any of the following:
- Promoting prostitution;
- Compelling prostitution;
- Aggravated promotion of prostitution; or
- Has sexual contact with a sex trafficking victim through force, fraud or coercion;
- Benefits from participating in a sex trafficking venture;
- Traffics a child or children into forced services or labor;
- Benefits from participating in a child trafficking scheme. This can include receiving labor or services from a trafficked child;
- Traffics a child or children and forces them to participate in any of the following:
- Promotion of prostitution;
- Aggravated promotion of prostitution;
- Compelling prostitution;
- Sexual assault;
- Employment harmful to children;
- Possession or promotion of child pornography;
- Sexual performance by a child;
- Continuous sexual abuse of young child or children; or
- Indecency with a child
- Gains a benefit from a sex trafficking scheme of a child or children; or
- Engages in a sexual act with a trafficked child.
The term “coercion” refers to the act of confiscating, destroying, concealing or withholding government records or identifying documents from a trafficked person.
Penalties for Human Trafficking in Texas
The penalties associated with human trafficking are especially harsh. Texas Penal Code § 20A.02 states human trafficking is a second-degree felony, which is punishable by:
- Minimum prison sentence of 2 years;
- Maximum prison sentence of 20 years; and
- A possible fine of up to $10,000
Certain factors could enhance your penalties, such as:
- Trafficking a child for services or labor;
- The crime resulted in the death of a human trafficking victim; or
- The unborn child of a trafficking victim died because of the offense
It’s a first-degree felony if your case includes any of the factors mentioned above. A first-degree felony is the second highest offense under capital felony. It has a minimum prison sentence of 5 years but can result in up to 99 years or life in prison.
Texas Law for Continuous Trafficking of Persons
Some human trafficking schemes operate on a much larger scale. If you have more than one victim involved in your crime, then it may be considered “continuous trafficking of persons.” You can be found guilty if you did the following:
- Engaged in two or more human trafficking offenses; and
- It was continuous or during a period of 30 or more days.
Continuous trafficking of a person is a first-degree felony, which is punishable by:
- Up to 99 years or life in prison; and
- A possible fine of up to $10,000
Signs of Human Trafficking
It’s hard to believe that a form of slavery is happening in the U.S. every day. Because of this, it’s important to know the signs of human trafficking. Victims of human trafficking can be found in broad daylight “working” at local businesses such as massage parlors. Listed below are some signs that a person may be a victim of human trafficking.
- Do they have family around?
- If they’re a child, are they in school?
- Do they have any connections such as church or community organizations?
- Was there a sudden change in behavior?
- Are they engaged in commercial sexual acts online?
- Does there seem to be signs of force such as bruises or cuts?
- Are they a citizen of the United States?
- Is the person fearful, quiet or timid?
- Do they seem coached in what they’re saying?
- Does the person constantly defer to another authoritative person?
- Do they lack personal belongings?
- Are they disinterested in making personal relationships?
National Human Trafficking Hotline: Texas Division – Visit the official website of the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH) to learn more about human trafficking in Texas. Access the site to learn statistics for human trafficking in Texas, resources for victims and upcoming events held by NHTH.
Human Trafficking – Visit the official website for Ken Paxton, the Attorney General of Texas to learn more about human trafficking. Access the site to learn more about U.S human trafficking statistics and the Human Trafficking and Transnational/Organized Crime Section (HTTOC) created by Ken Paxton.
Human Trafficking Lawyer in Harris County, Texas
If you or someone you know has been charged with human trafficking, it’s crucial you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled attorney can assess your charges and uncover any available legal options. Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. understands the intense social stigma entailing human trafficking allegations, which is why it’s our mission to provide you with the best quality legal service possible.
Contact us by phone at (713) 224-5529 to schedule a case consultation. Flood Lewis & Associates, Inc. accepts clients throughout the Houston metropolitan area including Greenspoint, Uptown and River Oaks.
This article was last updated March 7th, 2019.