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Trafficking of Persons

The Trafficking of Persons crime in the state of Texas gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you participate in any of a wide variety of activities related to human trafficking. Trafficking refers to the movement of people, and human trafficking refers to moving people for illicit purposes such as forced labor or participation in the sex trade. Learn more detailed information about the Trafficking of Persons offense below.

Trafficking of Persons is an offense that requires registration as a sex offender in Texas under certain conditions – only convictions based on subsections (a)(3), (4), (7), or (8) require registration.1

Have you been charged with Trafficking of Persons? Call criminal lawyer Paul Saputo at (888) 239-9305.

There is a related offense called Continuous Trafficking of Persons. Learn more about Continuous Trafficking of Persons here

What is the law in Texas about Trafficking of Persons?

The offense is described in Section 20A.02 of the Texas Penal Code.

(a) A person commits an offense if the person knowingly:

(1) traffics another person with the intent that the trafficked person engage in forced labor or services;

(2) receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (1), including by receiving labor or services the person knows are forced labor or services;

(3) traffics another person and, through force, fraud, or coercion, causes the trafficked person to engage in conduct prohibited by:

(A) Section 43.02 (Prostitution);

(B) Section 43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution);

(C) Section 43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution); or

(D) Section 43.05 (Compelling Prostitution);

(4) receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (3) or engages in sexual conduct with a person trafficked in the manner described in Subdivision (3);

(5) traffics a child with the intent that the trafficked child engage in forced labor or services;

(6) receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (5), including by receiving labor or services the person knows are forced labor or services;

(7) traffics a child and by any means causes the trafficked child to engage in, or become the victim of, conduct prohibited by:

(A) Section 21.02 (Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children);

(B) Section 21.11 (Indecency with a Child);

(C) Section 22.011 (Sexual Assault);

(D) Section 22.021 (Aggravated Sexual Assault);

(E) Section 43.02 (Prostitution);

(F) Section 43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution);

(G) Section 43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution);

(H) Section 43.05 (Compelling Prostitution);

(I) Section 43.25 (Sexual Performance by a Child);

(J) Section 43.251 (Employment Harmful to Children); or

(K) Section 43.26 (Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography); or

(8) receives a benefit from participating in a venture that involves an activity described by Subdivision (7) or engages in sexual conduct with a child trafficked in the manner described in Subdivision (7).

Effective September 1, 2017, H.B. 2529 added a definition of coercion:2

(a-1) For purposes of Subsection (a)(3), “coercion” as defined by Section 1.07 includes destroying, concealing, confiscating, or withholding from the trafficked person, or threatening to destroy, conceal, confiscate, or withhold from the trafficked person, the trafficked person’s actual or purported:

(1) government records; or

(2) identifying information or documents.

How can I be charged with Trafficking of Persons?

You can be charged with Trafficking of Persons if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of any of subsections (1)-(8) of 20A.02(a), as described in the section above, have been met.

What is the punishment for Trafficking of Persons?

A conviction for Trafficking of Persons is punished by default as a felony of the second degree,3 with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 and prison time of up to 20 years.

However, a conviction be enhanced to a first degree felony if either “(1) the applicable conduct constitutes an offense under Subsection (a)(5), (6), (7), or (8), regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the child at the time the actor commits the offense; or (2) the commission of the offense results in the death of the person who is trafficked.”4

Effective September 1, 2017, this language will change slightly to the following:5 “(b) Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree. An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree if: (1) the applicable conduct constitutes an offense under Subsection (a)(5), (6), (7), or (8), regardless of whether the actor knows the age of the child at the time [of] the actor commits the offense; or (2) the commission of the offense results in the death of the person who is trafficked.”


Legal References:

1Code of Criminal Procedure, Article 62.001(5)(K)

2Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02(a-1), as created by H.B. 2529, 85th Legislature, Section 1, effective September 1, 2017

3Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02(b)

4Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02(b)(1)&(2)

5Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02(b)(1)&(2), as created by H.B. 1808, 85th Legislature, Section 1, effective September 1, 2017

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