Paying for Sex is a Felony Offense in Texas
As of September 1, 2021, the new Texas prostitution law has been taken into effect. This will make Texas the first state in America to turn the crime of buying sex into a felony. Previously falling under a Class B misdemeanor, this state jail felony means harsher punishment.
INCREASE IN PUNISHMENT
Before this new law had taken effect, persons charged with a Class B misdemeanor for buying sex have faced a maximum of 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 if convicted. Persons convicted of a second time for prostitution faced the harsher punishments of a Class A misdemeanor, which is up to 1 year in prison and a fine up to $4,000. This applies to anyone buying or selling sex.
Under the new law, they now face a state jail felony for a first conviction, with punishments including up to 2 years in state prison (with a minimum of 180 days) and a fine of up to $10,000.
Persons convicted of a second time under the new law will increase the charge to a third-degree felony which includes 2 to 10 year in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
House Bill 1540, which passed the Texas House and Senate in May, summarizes as:
“Relating to regulation of certain facilities and establishments with respect to, civil remedies for certain criminal activities affecting, and certain criminal offenses involving health safety, and welfare; creating a criminal offense; increasing penalties.”
Among several other measures, the bill also enhances penalties for those who try to recruit victims from shelters and certain residential treatment facilities for prostitution.
HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN TEXAS
A common definition for human trafficking is that it is a form of modern slavery that involves moving or recruiting persons (adult or child) by using fraud, coercion or threats in order to exploit, enslave or abuse.
Texas legislators have construed those who buy sex as being active supporters of human trafficking. Sex for money is not a new crime, but modern criminal justice efforts have revealed that many prostitutes are actually victims of sex trafficking.
Along with California, Texas has the most human trafficking in the United States and has received more wide spread media attention and public concern in recent years.
DEFENDING CRIMINAL MISCHIEF CHARGES
Innocent people are often picked up and accused by overzealous law officers with oversized nets to catch offenders. With punishments and penalties so high, it is important for those accused of or charged with a sex crime to find a knowledgable and trustworthy sex crime defense attorney to handle their case. If you or a love one is facing this type a charge—a charge which, upon conviction, can bring a much harsher punishment under the new Texas sex crime law, contact Attorney Shane Lewis today if you are ready to find out your legal options.