Crimes against children, especially sex offenses, receive more significant law enforcement attention that other criminal offenses. Texas is on the precipice of establishing a special unit specifically designed to handle child sex and human trafficking cases.
Last month Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted, “Texas is helping establish the ‘Crimes Against Children Unit’ to streamline prosecution of human trafficking cases” along with a link to an official press release about the unit.
The Office of the Governor’s Criminal Justice Division is awarding a grant of more than $260,000 to the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in order to help create the new Crimes Against Children Unit by providing funding for prosecutors “to specifically handle cases involving juvenile victims of human trafficking and sex crimes.”
Goals of the Crimes against Children Unit
With its grant money, the Crimes Against Children Unit not only aims to “streamline the prosecution of human trafficking cases of both traffickers and those who purchase sex from children,” but also hopes to “provide early and consistent communication and support for victims already dealing with traumatic life-altering events.”
The prosecutors hired to lead the new unit will have a number of responsibilities, including:
- Working with local law enforcement, schools, and other agencies to provide an organized approach in the fight against sexual exploitation and human trafficking.
- Giving legal advice and assistance on human trafficking cases, which could involve assisting with pre-trial investigations; acting as lead or associate counsel; and preparing briefs or other legal documents to be used during hearings, trials, or appeals.
- Interacting with human trafficking victims.
- Handling specialized sexual assault cases.
- Representing the state in plea negotiations, trials, or other hearings.
- Participating as a partner in the Human Trafficking Community Response Multi-Disciplinary Team.
“Protecting innocent victims from the horrors of human and sex trafficking is one of my top priorities as Governor,” Abbott said. “This grant will directly fund efforts to find and arrest those who perpetrate these heinous crimes against our children. I will continue to do all I can to work with our local and federal partners to put an end to these horrific crimes.”
Child Human Trafficking Laws in Texas
There are a number of laws in our state that discuss human trafficking or trafficking of persons. Within these laws, certain ones specifically detail human trafficking when it relates to children and sexual acts.
A person commits an offense if he or she knowingly trafficks a child and by any means causes the trafficked child to engage in, or become the victim of, one of these sex crimes:
- Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children
- Indecency with a Child
- Sexual Assault
- Aggravated Sexual Assault
- Promotion of Prostitution
- Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution
- Compelling Prostitution
- Sexual Performance by a Child
- Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography
A person can also commit an offense if they receive a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described above or engages in sexual conduct with a child trafficked in the manner described above.
If someone commits any of these crimes, they will be charged with a felony of the first degree, which is punishable by life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than five years.
The Crimes Against Children Unit is the beginning of our state cracking down on child human trafficking and sexual exploitation. If you have been charged with human trafficking or a sex crime against a child, you need to contact an experienced Texas sex crimes attorney today to fight for your rights and your future.