A new Texas prostitution law took effect on September 1, 2021. Under the new law, the crime of purchasing or busying sex is no longer a Class B misdemeanor. Now it will be a state jail felony with much harsher penalties. This law makes Texas the first state in the Union to make the buying (rather than selling) of sex a felony.
The Old Regime
Under the old law, persons buying sex were charged with a Class B misdemeanor and faced a maximum of 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,000 on conviction. A second offense led to stiffer penalties for a Class A misdemeanor, one year in prison, and a fine up to $4,000.
The New Law
Under the new law, the penalty for a first offense is a state jail felony with punishments up to two years in state prison (a minimum of 180 days) and a fine of up to $10,000. Even harsher, a second offense would be a third-degree felony with potential sentences of 2 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
What the Change Means
In making this change, the Texas legislature is taking the offense of those who buy sex much more seriously, seeing the offenders as active participants in human trafficking.
What Is Human Trafficking?
Human trafficking, under the Texas Penal Code, occurs when a person knowingly participates in trafficking another child or adult with the intent that the trafficked victim will engage in forced labor or services. It is most widely known for its modern-day sex slavery aspects but can also feature in other types of forced labor. Texas is, unfortunately, a national center of trafficking, with an estimated 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking at any given time.
There are four major types of human trafficking:
Adult Sex Trafficking – Trafficking adults for sex by force, fraud, or coercion, often in strip clubs, brothels, massage parlors, prostitution on the streets, and internet prostitution. Look for unexplained hotel receipts, unexplained presence of lingerie and condoms, female hygiene items in a business place, rolls of money, unexplained injuries, excessive third-party control.
Adult Labor Trafficking – Using force, fraud, or coercion to traffic adults into industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, or domestic servitude. Look for those who live where there work or are transported by their employer. Trafficked workers are often paid poorly and irregularly and live in areas not zoned for residential occupation.
Child Sex Trafficking – Using any means to traffic children under the age of 18 into the commercial sex industry. Note that child sex trafficking does not require the use of force, fraud, or coercion. Look for sudden luxury gifts, truancy, changes in emotional attitudes, unexplained injuries, social interaction strictly controlled by another.
Child Labor Trafficking – Using force, fraud, or coercion to traffic children under the age of 18 into industries such as agriculture, manufacturing, or domestic servitude. Look for those who live where they work or are transported by their employer. Trafficked workers are often paid poor and irregularly and live in areas not zoned for residential occupation. Children will often be malnourished or show signs of exhaustion.
Call an Austin Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you or a loved one has become involved in a purchase or sex or sex trafficking issue, you need to contact a criminal defense attorney with experience in sex crimes defense today. Granger and Mueller PC can help, so contact us in Austin for a free initial consultation on your case.