October 2, 2019
The media is beginning to speak of human trafficking and sex trafficking as an “epidemic,” and we know that more and more people are being charged with trafficking-related crimes daily.
Human trafficking and sex trafficking are oftentimes used interchangeably, but their definitions should be noted. According to the Texas Penal Code Section 20A, human trafficking encompasses several types of trafficking: 1) sex trafficking, 2) forced labor, and 3) debt bondage. That same section defines “traffic” as, “to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain another person.” As you can see, human trafficking does not only involve sex and prostitution, but it’s actually been dubbed “modern day slavery.” If you are holding someone against their will and demanding them to do any kind of task they do not consent to, it can fall under the general umbrella of human trafficking.
A human or sex trafficking charge oftentimes comes with multiple “violations” since the offense is very complex. You can be charged with multiple pieces of the above definition of “traffic.” You can also be charged with more than one offense out of the same “episode,” not to mention multiple “episodes” in a certain time period. Lots of layering here, people, just like an onion.
For criminal charge purposes, the age of the alleged victim holds a lot of weight and this is where the punishments for this crime start to differ. However, whether the alleged victim of a trafficking crime is a child (under 18) or not, this crime’s charge starts as a second degree felony, and only gets more harsh from there. It is also important to note that jail time and a hefty fine aren’t the only penalties. Depending on whether your charge has to do with sex trafficking specifically, you may also have to register for the rest of your lifetime as a sex offender.
Human trafficking was not illegal in the United States until 2000. Think of a different category of charge resulting in a felony – take murder, for example. The origins of murder being a criminal charge and “against the law” could take us back to the times of the early philosophers. When that many years are involved, laws evolve and change slowly as humans learn more. Laws regarding human trafficking have had to change at alarming rates, dependent on the cases that challenge the laws.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of human and sex trafficking charges, activity, and mainstream media coverage, especially over the last year. This means the laws are following the trend, and can be confusing and tricky to navigate. Amendments to the Texas Penal Code sited above are quickly taking place, and it is almost impossible to navigate this changing environment without a criminal defense attorney who specializes in staying current in the areas of human and sex trafficking.
If you or someone you know has been charged with human or sex trafficking, call our office at 210-222-2297 for a free consultation. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.