The Texas Continuous Smuggling of Persons law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you used any type of transportation to conceal someone from a investigator more than two or three times ” during a period that is 10 or more days in duration”, or if you have encouraged or helped someone stay or flee the country to avoid lawfully being arrested over the same period of time.
FAQs about the
Continuous Smuggling law in Texas
- What is the current Texas law about Continuous Smuggling of Persons?
- How can I be charged with a Continuous Smuggling offense in Texas?
- What is the statute of limitation for Continuous Smuggling in Texas?
- What is the penalty for a Texas Continuous Smuggling offense?
- Can you get probation for Continuous Smuggling in Texas?
- What level of crime is Continuous Smuggling in Texas?
The Continuous Smuggling of Persons law is a relatively new offense in Texas, enacted by the 84th Legislature in 2015. Greg Abbott advocated for the passage of this bill in his “Reforming Texas Human Smuggling Law” paper. The legislature has not updated this law since it was initially passed.
Have you been charged with Continuous Smuggling of Persons? Book a consultation to discuss legal representation with attorneys Paul Saputo and Nicholas Toufexis today.
The base Smuggling of Persons law is the human smuggling law in Texas. Both Smuggling of Persons and the Continuous Smuggling offense do not require the state to prove trafficking, in that they do not require the smuggled people to be smuggled against their will.
The Penal Code codifies the Texas Continuous Smuggling law under Title 5 “Offenses Against The Person,” Chapter 20 “Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint, and Smuggling of Persons.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Continuous Smuggling of Persons below.
The current Texas law defines the offense of Continuous Smuggling of Persons in Penal Code Section §20.06 as follows:
(a) A person commits an offense if, during a period that is 10 or more days in duration, the person engages two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05.
Section 20.05 of the Texas Penal Code describes the “Smuggling of Persons” offense. Smuggling of Persons is a crime that requires the state’s attorneys to prove that you engaged in activity that involve hiding people for pay. It’s not perfectly clear what the “10 or more days in duration” element refers to in this statute.
Subsection (b) of the Continuous Smuggling of Persons offense in Section 20.06 adds a specific jury instruction for these cases:
If a jury is the trier of fact, members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on which specific conduct engaged in by the defendant constituted an offense under Section 20.05 or on which exact date the defendant engaged in that conduct. The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant, during a period that is 10 or more days in duration, engaged two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05.
You can be charged with Continuous Smuggling of Persons in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of Section 20.06(a), as described in the section above, have been met.
Subsection (d) of the Continuous Smuggling of Persons offense in Section 20.06 provides one exception to the ability of prosecutors to charge multiple violations of this offense:
A defendant may not be charged with more than one count under Subsection (a) if all of the conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05 is alleged to have been committed against the same victim.
Continuous Smuggling offenses have a three-year limitations period.
A conviction for Continuous Smuggling of Persons may be punished as a felony of the first degree or second degree. In some instances, it may be punished as a first degree felony with a mandatory minimum 25 year prison sentence. The mandatory 25-year minimum sentence is for cases where the victim also suffered a sexual assault or severe bodily injury or death. It may be punished as a first degree felony if there was a substantial likelihood that the smuggled individual would suffer serious bodily injury or death or if the victim was under 18 years old. All other convictions for this offense are punished as second degree felonies. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.
The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure allows both judges and juries to grant probation for Continuous Smuggling, and judges are also allowed to accept deferred adjudication plea deals.
Note, however, that no matter the offense, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for any suspended sentence of over 10 years. Also, judges may not grant community supervision after a conviction if (1) the defendant used or exhibited a deadly weapon during the commission of the felony or immediate flight thereafter and (2) the defendant used or exhibited the deadly weapon himself or was a party to the offense and knew that a deadly weapon would be used or exhibited.
The Penal Code classifies the punishment for Continuous Smuggling as a first or second degree felony, depending on the circumstances, with a potential minimum 25 year prison sentence.
Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.
^1. Texas Penal Code §20.06. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^3. Texas Penal Code §20.06(e)^4. Texas Penal Code §20.06(g)^5. Texas Penal Code §20.06(f)^6. Texas Penal Code §20.06(e)^7. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.054, Art. 42A.056, Art. 42A.102 .^8. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure^9. Art. 42A.054(b), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure