Given our location on the southern border, Texas sees many human trafficking cases. Every day, dozens of people are trafficked into Texas, and some end up in Houston and surrounding areas. Trafficking typically has two purposes—to bring in people to work for low wages or to work as a prostitute. Either is illegal.
Sometimes, innocent people get caught up in trafficking schemes. Maybe you thought you were hiring a nanny for your kids, only to see state or federal law enforcement show up at your door. If you are accused of trafficking, we highly recommend contacting one of our Galveston criminal defense attorneys. Your liberty could depend on it.
Human Trafficking Under Texas Law
Texas has criminalized human trafficking in Section 20A.02 of the Penal Code. This law contains a detailed list of trafficking crimes. Some of the most common are knowingly doing any of the following:
- Trafficking a person with the intent that they engage in forced labor.
- Receiving some sort of benefit for participating in a trafficking scheme, such as receiving forced labor from a trafficking victim.
- Using coercion or fraud to cause a trafficked victim to engage in prostitution.
- Receiving a benefit from someone trafficked for the purposes of prostitution.
There are separate offenses for trafficking an adult and children. Generally, this is a second-degree felony in Texas, which can send you to prison for up to 20 years.
However, some trafficking will qualify as a first-degree felony: trafficking a child when you know the child’s age, or any trafficking that results in death.
Federal Charges for Human Trafficking
Trafficking schemes often catch the attention of the federal government, especially when these schemes are large-scale and involve bringing in victims from outside the country. The federal government has roughly a half dozen laws on the books they could use to prosecute someone involved in trafficking.
For example, 18 U.S.C. § 1589 makes it a crime to knowingly receive or provide labor from someone by use of force, restraint, or threats. It also prohibits using threats of harm to a person’s reputation or mental state, as well as threatening to use the legal process to put pressure on them to work.
As an example, you can’t threaten to report an undocumented migrant to ICE to bully them into working for you for no pay. Any conviction can result in 20 years of prison or possibly life in prison if the trafficked victim dies or is sexually abused.
Similarly, 18 U.S.C. § 1591 criminalizes sex trafficking of children. It is a broad statute that covers everything from providing transportation, lodging, or advertisement, to prohibiting enticing children to come for sexual purposes. The law also criminalizes receiving anything of value for the sex trafficking. Depending on the circumstances, you could face life in federal prison.
Contact Our League City Criminal Defense Attorney Immediately
As you can see, both the state and federal governments impose stiff penalties on those convicted. You should immediately begin building the strongest defense possible. Call Ted Nelson today. His law firm can represent anyone accused of a League City crime, including human trafficking.
One defense we often raise involves your level of knowledge. It’s not a crime to unknowingly receive the services or financial benefit of trafficking. However, we need to learn the facts of your case to settle on the best defense possible.