Because sex trafficking is a business (forcing victims to provide sex for profit), the illicit trade is considered to be a modern-day form of slavery.
These statistics are underlined by the current focal shifts toward advocating for women’s rights and eradicating sex trafficking across the nation (think MeToo movement and the Epstein case).
In other words, authorities are in a state of heightened awareness. If you are participating in activities even possibly considered questionable to authorities, be aware of – and prepared for – the following key insights about sex trafficking in Texas.
The State Is Under Pressure to Curb the Sex Trafficking Trade
With the topic of sex trafficking taking national center stage and statistical data pointing the finger at the Lonestar State, Texas is under intensified pressure to curb the illicit trade within its borders.
This means a crackdown for even the most minor infractions. Find yourself on the wrong side of the law, and you’re going to need an experienced Fort Worth sex trafficking defense attorney.
Human Sex Trafficking Is a State – and Federal – Crime
There are a number of sexually exploitative offenses related to sex trafficking – not all of them so obvious.
Among federal criminal acts related to human sex trafficking are:
- Kidnapping/imprisoning a person with intent to sell them into sex slavery
- Transporting person(s) with intent/knowledge they will be sexually exploited
- Profiting/benefiting from trafficking or sexual exploitation another person
- Taking and/or destroying a person’s travel documents in relation to trafficking them
- Making a person pay off debts to you through sex work (or holding a person in peonage)
In addition to these federal-level crimes, Texas also classifies the following offenses as related to sex trafficking:
- Engaging in or benefitting from any sex act involving a child
- Subjecting a trafficking victim to prostitution, illegal pornography, or continuous sexual abuse
Sex Trafficking Crimes Carry Hefty Penalties and Fines in Texas and Beyond
Criminal convictions for sex trafficking charges can carry extreme consequences: prison time, hefty fines, and restitution to victims.
Depending on the specific circumstances of a sex trafficking case involving children, for instance, prison sentences range from 10 years to life. Holding a person in peonage can land you a 20-year prison term plus thousands in fines. Present factors such as kidnapping or sexual abuse in a human trafficking case could garner a life sentence.
What’s more, the collateral consequences of a sex trafficking conviction last far longer than jail time and fines. One such collateral consequence is the Texas Sex Offender Registry.
A Texas Sex Trafficking Conviction Means Lifetime Sex Offender Registration
Most convicted sex offenders are required to register with the Texas Sex Offender Registry for a certain period of time. Generally, the registration term is ten years following sentence completion.
Every convicted sex trafficker in Texas, however, is required to register as a sex offender for life.
Not Every Texas Attorney Is Entitled to Practice in Federal Court
Passing the state bar doesn’t automatically allow a Texas attorney to practice law in a federal court. Your lawyer must be admitted to the federal bar.
This process includes paying certain fees and taking an oath of admission, among other requirements. Additionally, in Texas, each lawyer must apply to each district separately.
As you research the best person to represent you in a court of law, we advise that you first inquire whether the attorney is experienced in both state and federal sex trafficking law and then whether they are entitled to practice in the specific court your case is to be processed through.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing criminal law in Texas in 2005. Before becoming a defense attorney, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their criminal cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney in Criminal Defense, Top Attorney in DUI & DWI, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.