Child trafficking happens in places least likely to come to mind, including Texas. In fact, it’s a crime that is on the rise in this state and across the nation.
Recently, a human trafficking sting in Beaumont resulted in the arrest of 21 men, two of whom are doctors. They’ve been charged with prostitution — one of them with a child under the age of 18. The sting operation involved men posing to be interested in purchasing women, and some children, for online sex.
Human trafficking, especially child trafficking, is a serious crime. There are a wide variety of charges associated with these activities and just as many penalties.
Understanding what human trafficking is and the criminal charges involved could possibly change the outcome of your case if you ever wind up being accused.
The Criminal Charges for Human Trafficking
Human slavery is another term that can be used interchangeably with human trafficking. Every year in Texas, thousands of men, women, and children fall victim to human trafficking for a variety of reasons.
Traffickers often use various tactics to coerce, trap, or force the victims into the human trafficking trade. They are then used for physical labor or sex acts.
In Texas, it is illegal for someone to participate in any of these activities for the purpose of human trafficking:
Being a party to human trafficking in any way can result in criminal prosecution for a variety of charges.
Sex Trafficking of Children
When does human trafficking become child sex trafficking in the eyes of the law?
Anytime someone under the age of 18 is involved, it will be considered child trafficking.
Many children lured or forced into trafficking are subject to various forms of abuse, including sexual abuse and false imprisonment. Kidnapping can also be charged. Child sex trafficking is defined by Texas law as an activity where:
- A child was knowingly trafficked with the intent of being forced into labor;
- The defendant benefited from an activity involving trafficking;
- A child was trafficked for the purpose of continuous sexual abuse, sexual assault, or prostitution;
- A child was be engaged in harmful employment; or
- The actions promoted pornography involving sexual performance with a child who has been trafficked.
Even though it seems on the surface that some of these crimes aren’t sexual and therefore aren’t sexual offenses, prosecutors can charge someone with child sex trafficking in relation to other crimes as well.
This is why it’s very important to have an experienced lawyer on your side to defend you in court. After all, everyone in the United States is innocent until proven guilty.
The Penalties for Child Trafficking
The penalties for child trafficking and human trafficking in Texas vary from case to case. The defendant’s criminal record and the circumstances of the case are taken into consideration. In general, many child sex trafficking cases are charged as second-degree felonies, but a first-degree felony can result as well.
If found guilty of a first-degree felony, it is punishable by up to 99 years in prison and fines up to $10,000. For a second-degree felony, the penalties can include a prison sentence up to 20 years and fines up to $10,000.
Human trafficking, as well as child sex trafficking, can result in harsh penalties in Texas. If you or someone you know is involved in a trafficking case, then it’s important to understand the charges that can be charged as well as the rights of the defendant in the case.