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What Constitutes Human Trafficking in Texas?

 Posted on March 18, 2024 in Federal Crimes

Texas criminal defense lawyerIf you have been accused of human trafficking offenses, it is crucial to understand precisely what constitutes this crime under state law. A Texas lawyer can help you, as these cases can be complex. It is important to understand the legal definition and components of human trafficking according to Texas statutes.

What the Law Says for Human Trafficking

Under the Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02, human trafficking is defined as intentionally or knowingly causing another person to engage in specific exploitative acts through force, fraud, or coercion. These acts include:

  • Forced labor or services
  • Prostitution or other commercial sex acts

The key is proving that element of compelling the victim through illicit means like physical abuse, false promises, or threats. It is important to note that human trafficking is frequently prosecuted at the federal level as well, under laws like the Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA). Federal prosecutors can bring charges if the trafficking activities involve interstate or international transportation of victims. Under the TVPA, human trafficking crimes can result in up to life imprisonment, depending on the specific circumstances. Federal cases often carry harsher penalties than state prosecutions.

While human trafficking charges may originate under Texas laws, these cases frequently intersect with federal statutes as well when the activities cross state lines or international borders. This multi-jurisdictional nature adds further complexity that demands an experienced defense strategy.

When Is a Minor Involved?

The law takes a tough stance when minors are involved in sex trafficking. If the victim is under 18 years old, simply causing them to engage in prostitution or sexual acts constitutes trafficking, even without demonstrating force, fraud, or coercion (Texas Penal Code 20A.02(b)(1)). Protecting children from exploitation is paramount.

Distinguishing Smuggling vs. Trafficking

It is important to distinguish human trafficking from the separate offense of human smuggling. Smuggling centers on illegally transporting individuals across borders. Trafficking is fundamentally based on the illicit coercion used to exploit individuals through forced labor and services, and it does not necessitate any movement across borders.

Methods of Compulsion

According to Texas law, the means by which traffickers may compel victims include:

  • Physical force, restraint, or bodily harm
  • Psychological coercion through threats or abuse of power
  • Deception through lies about the nature of intended activities
  • Exploitation of legal processes like deportation threats
  • Not every element needs to be present for human trafficking charges

Contact a Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been accused of any form of human trafficking, the stakes are extremely high. You need a Texas criminal defense attorney to protect your rights. Trafficking cases frequently involve complex investigations and testimony that must be handled appropriately.

Do not let human trafficking accusations derail your life and freedom without a fight. Get representation from a tenacious, knowledgeable firm that has secured over 300 not-guilty verdicts and acquittals for our clients. Call The Crowder Law Firm, P.C. at 214-544-0061 for a free consultation to see how we can help you.

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