Texas Human Trafficking Laws
Local authorities in McLennan County are enforcing Texas human trafficking laws, emphasizing human sex trafficking. Because I-35 is a major route through the state, the Waco area sees many human trafficking cases. Waco faces a growing problem with human sex trafficking. As law enforcement crackdown, some innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire.
It is estimated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that 25 percent of the over 50,000 persons illegally trafficked into the United States yearly enter the nation from Texas. Twenty-five percent of human trafficking victims are in Texas.
There are two main types of human trafficking that focus on the purpose behind the trafficking in people. Labor trafficking is handling people as slaves or servants to pay off a debt by force or fraud. Sex trafficking is where someone uses fraud or coercion to make someone commit a commercial sex act (including pornography or stripping) or involving a minor. State law enforcement is now getting trained to identify human trafficking.
Specifically, the Texas Penal Code prohibits:
- Trafficking to use a person for forced or harmful labor
- Subjecting a trafficking victim to prostitution, illegal pornography or steady sexual abuse
- Knowingly benefitting from human slavery activities
- Engaging in or benefitting from a sex act involving a child
Most of these punishments are first degree felonies, which is the classification for the most severe criminal offenses. Those can bring prison sentences of 5 to 99 years and fines of up to $10,000. Penalties for violating Texas state human trafficking laws depend on the defendant’s prior criminal record and whether the defendant used a weapon.
Federal Human Trafficking Laws
What are federal human trafficking laws? The Trafficking Victims Protection Act, or TVPA, was landmark legislation relating to human trafficking at the national level. In 2014, Congress passed a law to fight foster children trafficked. And the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015 made it a federal crime to purchase commercial sex from a sex trafficking victim.
What are some criminal acts linked to federal human trafficking? Among them are:
- Moving a person with the intent or understanding that the person will be sold or held as a slave
- Kidnapping or taking a person prisoner to sell them into slavery
- Selling a person into involuntary servitude
- Forced marriage by human trafficking
- Making profits from slavery or human trafficking
- Confiscating, hiding or destroying a passport or similar records to deny them travel while planning to traffick them
- Holding a person in peonage, which is debt slavery or servitude when employers make persons pay off debts through work
Penalties for Federal Sex Trafficking
If convicted of a federal sex trafficking offense, the penalties will vary depending on various factors. This includes how much the defendant participated in sex trafficking.
For instance, if the U.S. Government can prove a defendant was involved in preparing to send a sex trafficking victim to the United States, that person could face a punishment of seven years in federal prison.
If the defendant directly participated in the sex trafficking offense, they could spend up to 20 years in federal prison.
The defendant could face life in federal prison if the offender sexually assaulted the victim or forced the victim to engage in sexual activity without consent.
Criminal Defense Lawyer for Human Trafficking Arrest in Waco
Some innocent people are caught in nets by law enforcement and then charged with human trafficking instead of the lesser offense they committed. Then prosecutors charge individuals without enough evidence to prove this serious crime.
If you need help with a human trafficking defense, we are ready to defend your legal rights. Experienced criminal defense attorneys at Dunnam & Dunnam have defended individuals involved in human trafficking.
Human Trafficking Defenses
Alleged offenders often feel that society believes they are guilty before they have an opportunity to explain themselves. Certain defenses may help get the Waco human trafficking charges they face reduced or possibly even dismissed. A few examples include, but are not limited to:
- No financial incentive
- Lack of criminal intent
- Unaware of the victim’s immigration status
- Lack of evidence
- Lack of probable cause
- Illegal search and seizure
- Alleged victim willfully participated in activities
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Law
You probably have a lot of questions about the criminal law process, that’s why we have assembled some of the most common questions about criminal law so that you can read them while you wait on your appointment with a criminal defense lawyer.
McLennan County Human Trafficking Lawyer
An experienced criminal defense attorney is necessary to fight human trafficking charges and help a person navigate the criminal system’s pitfalls. A Waco human trafficking attorney can help the local defendant with critical information about the local judge, jury, and prosecutors. We have the local understanding required. If you need an aggressive criminal defense attorney in Waco, call us at 254-753-6437.