Continuous Smuggling of Persons text over Texas flag background

Continuous Smuggling of Persons

The Continuous Smuggling of Persons crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you ” during a period that is 10 or more days in duration” have used any type of transportation to conceal someone from a investigator more than two or three times, or if you have encouraged or helped someone stay or flee the country to avoid lawfully being arrested. Learn more detailed information about the Continuous Smuggling of Persons offense below.

Have you been charged with Continuous Smuggling of Persons? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305 to discuss legal representation.

This is a relatively new offense, created by House Bill 11, effective in September 2015, by an act of the 84th State Legislature. Greg Abbott advocated for the passage of this bill in his “Reforming Texas Human Smuggling Law” paper.

Continuous Smuggling of Persons is classified in the Texas Penal Code under Title 5 “Offenses Against the Person”, Chapter 20 “Kidnapping, Unlawful Restraint And Smuggling of Persons.”

What is the current Texas law about Continuous Smuggling of Persons?

The current Texas law is as follows:1

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) 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.

How can I be charged with Continuous Smuggling of Persons?

You can be charged with Continuous Smuggling of Persons 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) 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.

What is the punishment for Continuous Smuggling of Persons?

A conviction for Continuous Smuggling of Persons may be punished as a felony of the first degree or second degree.2 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.3 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.4 All other convictions for this offense are punished as second degree felonies.2 Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors

Legal References:

1 Texas Penal Code §20.06

2 Texas Penal Code §20.06(e)

3 Texas Penal Code §20.06(g)

4 Texas Penal Code §20.06(f)

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