Prostitution is known as the oldest profession in the world. There is a basis for this universal belief. One would be hard-pressed to find any major city around the globe where prostitution doesn’t exist in some form. Houston is no different.
A famous strip in Houston where prostitutes are easily found is called the Bissonnet tract. Recently, Harris Country removed 36 suspects from a proposed Bissonnet prostitution injunction.
Because prostitution is a byproduct of human trafficking.
Law enforcement investigations and media reports have made it clear that many of those involved in prostitution are actually victims of human trafficking. Removing them from the injunction is not seen as a move that will curb the activities of illegal prostitution in the area.
Rather, it is seen as a way to help those trapped in prostitution against their will to find help. Those suspected of running the prostitution rings are still on the hook.
Those who participate in this lifestyle for whatever reason should educate themselves about the laws and penalties for prostitution in Texas. Equally important is they should be aware of the resources available to help Texas sex workers who want to get out of the business.
Prostitution Under Texas Law
In Texas, prostitution is defined as willfully being involved in a sex act in exchange for money. It is also illegal to solicit sex for money, though solicitation is often charged differently and is based on where the solicitation took place.
A prostitution charge is established by either receiving a fee for sex acts or soliciting sex in exchange for a fee of some kind. Contrary to popular belief, the fee doesn’t actually have to be received in order for prostitution to be charged.
Additionally, it is a crime to promote prostitution as well or to compel prostitution if knowingly done to someone under 18. Texas makes this distinction in the law to separate sex workers from the pimps and johns.
Penalties for Prostitution
In Texas, prostitution charges can be charged differently based on a few factors and that can impact the penalties for the crime. In general, prostitution is classified as one of six charges ranging from low-level misdemeanors to the most serious felony charge.
Class B Misdemeanor
This is charged if there is solicitation or prostitution, but no aggravating factors involved in the circumstances surrounding the case. The sentence if found guilty is up to six months in jail and fines for as much as $2,000.
Class A Misdemeanor
This is charged if there are two or fewer prior convictions for prostitution or solicitation on the record of the defendant but no other aggravating factors are present. The sentence if found guilty is up to 12 months in jail and fines for as much as $4,000.
State Jail Felony
This is charged if there are three or more previous convictions for prostitution or solicitation on the defendant’s record or if they have repeatedly been found guilty of pimping. The penalties if found guilty of this crime are up to two years in state prison and fines of as much as $10,000.
Third Degree Felony
This is charged if anyone finances, owns, manages, or controls a prostitution business with more than 2 sex workers. If found guilty of this crime, you can spend up to 10 years in prison and face fines for as much as $10,000.
Second Degree Felony
This is charged if the person who was solicited is under the age of 18, regardless of whether their age was known at the time of the incident, or if the defendant believed them to be under 18. It can also be charged if someone pimps a child under the age of 18 or compels a child under 18 to commit the crime of prostitution. A guilty verdict can result in a prison sentence of as many as 20 years, and fines for as much as $10,000.
First Degree Felony
This is charged if someone controls, manages, finances, or owns a prostitution business with more than two sex workers. Being found guilty can land you in jail for as long as life in prison and require to you pay fines for as much as $10,000.
Resources for Sex Workers
Most people involved in sex work are not in it by choice. They would prefer to get out of the business but often do not know where to turn. If you or someone you know needs help, then there are places to get help.
Human trafficking resources are available through places such as Elijah Rising and Texas Health and Human Services, which can help to connect sex workers with resources for help.
If you are already facing criminal prostitution charges, reach out to an experienced Texas criminal defense attorney for sound advice and to help you mount your best defense.