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New Texas Law: Buying Sex Now a Felony Charge 

Posted on in Criminal Defense

Tarrant County Sexual Offense AttorneyAccording to statistics from the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the state of Texas has the second-highest rate of human trafficking in the country. Texas lawmakers have just passed a new bill that takes aim at human trafficking, making it a state felony offense for buying sex instead of a misdemeanor offense under the current law. Texas is the first state in the nation to elevate these charges.  

The New Law: HB 1540

According to a report prepared by the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project of Texas, there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking just in the state of Texas. Almost 80,000 of those victims are minors. The report found that sex trafficking of minors reaps approximately $600 million for traffickers, while the consequences of trafficking minors cost the state of Texas about $6.6 billion each year.

Historically, state criminal justice systems – including Texas – have treated prostitutes as criminals, often harsher than the traffickers or buyers. Studies show that many prostitutes are actually victims of human trafficking who have been forced into the sex trade. Instead of criminal charges, convictions, and jail, advocates argue that these victims should be given protection, mental health treatment, and assistance in finding jobs, education, and housing.

The new law targets “Johns,” which refers to the individuals who pay to have sex. Under the current law, an individual arrested for purchasing sex is charged with a misdemeanor, but that will all change when the new law takes effect on September 1. A first offense will now be charged as a state felony. A conviction of a state felony could mean 180 days to two years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. If a person is convicted a second time, the crime is enhanced to a third-degree felony, with a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.

The new law will now also allow for felony classification for any criminal action that an individual takes to try to get victims out of shelters and residential facilities. Human traffickers often target these types of centers in order to recruit victims.

Contact a Collin County Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested and charged with a sexual offense, it is important to contact a skilled Plano, TX sex crimes attorney right away. Convictions of these types of offenses often carry harsh penalties that could have a significant impact on your future. Call The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. at 214-303-9600 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Sources:

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/44597/idvsa-2016-human-trafficking-by-the-numbers.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

https://legiscan.com/TX/bill/HB1540/2021

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