To avoid the serious penalties for soliciting a prostitute in Texas, it is important to get an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side right away.
Paying for sex is a crime in Texas. In the past, law enforcement efforts primarily targeted sellers. With increased awareness of the role human trafficking plays in prostitution, police and prosecutors are more focused on purchasers. Our Austin criminal defense attorneys at Granger and Mueller, P.C. explain how a recently passed bill increases the penalties for soliciting a prostitute from a misdemeanor to a felony offense.
HB 1540 and The Role Human Trafficking Plays in Prostitution
House Bill 1540 was passed by state legislators in May of 2021 and went into effect on September 1, 2021. Part of an larger bill sponsored by the Human Trafficking Prevention Taskforce, it makes soliciting a prostitute a felony crime. It acknowledges the role purchasers play in human trafficking and aims to discourage their behavior while protecting potential victims.
Some prostitutes willingly offer their services to clients, but others are coerced and forced into the trade. The website DoSomething.org shares some alarming facts about human trafficking and the role it plays in the sex trade:
- Human trafficking impacts an estimated 20 to 40 million people.
- Traffickers make more than $150 billion in profits each year, the majority of which comes from prostitution.
- Texas ranks second highest in the country when it comes to reported cases.
- Over half of all human trafficking victims are children.
In addition to children, human trafficking often targets immigrants and underprivileged men and women in the community. Traffickers exploit them for financial gains and use threats and abuse to control them.
Increased Penalties for Prostitution in Texas
Prostitution was once thought of as a victimless crime but police and state officials are now more aware of the role it plays in fueling human trafficking. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement on the passing of HB 1540, commending lawmakers for being the first in the country to take the steps needed in prosecuting solicitation of a prostitute as a felony offense.
Previously, this was a misdemeanor charge, with penalties including fines of $2,000 and up to a 180 day jail sentence. Under the new law it is a felony offense. Penalties under the Texas Criminal Code include:
- For a first conviction: Maximum fines of $10,000 and up to two years in prison;
- For a second offense: Additional fines and incarceration for anywhere between two and 10 years.
In addition, felony criminal charges remain on your permanent record and could prevent you from obtaining a job, housing, or an education.
Discuss Your Case With Our Austin Criminal Defense Attorney
If you are facing charges for solicitation of a prostitute in Austin, it is important to get legal guidance from someone you can trust. At Granger and Mueller, P.C., we have more than 25 years experience successfully defending clients. To discuss your case, call or contact our Austin criminal defense attorney online and request a consultation.