Human trafficking is a worldwide problem. People with power and money (the traffickers) take control of people who lack power (the victims) and force them to do things they would not voluntarily do. While some trafficking involves forcing the victims to perform unpaid or underpaid labor and services, a good portion of human trafficking involves forcing victims to perform sexual acts. In the United States, as in most of the world, a considerable portion of sexual trafficking victims are children who are sold or rented out to perform whatever sexual acts the customer desires. They are also frequently forced into sexual acts by the traffickers.
Texas laws specifically prohibit the “trafficking” of anyone for purposes of forced labor or services, as well as for participation in any of a lengthy list of sexual offenses. Multiple offenses in a specified period amount to the crime of “continuous” trafficking, which is a more severe crime with a more severe penalty.
The law distinguishes between children under 18 and adults, primarily for purposes of punishment (child trafficking caries the more serious penalty) and the types of sex crimes for which trafficking is prohibited.
As far as sex trafficking is concerned, the law punishes both the person doing the trafficking and anyone who benefits from it, either by participating in the venture itself, or by engaging in any of the prohibited sexual conduct with the trafficked person (essentially anyone paid in money or sex).
There is also a catchall for “obtaining” someone by any other means.
Because a key element of trafficking is the forcing of the victim to perform criminal sexual acts, it is quite common for the crime of sex trafficking to also amount to a separate sex crime, like prostitution. In those instances, the trafficking law specifically allows the defendant to be charged with either trafficking or the sex offense or both.
It’s a crime to traffic any child under 18 by any means when the trafficking causes the victim to engage in or become the victim of:
There are very specific requirements for each of these listed crimes, which complicates the case considerably. Evidence and proof necessarily has to be presented for both the trafficking charge and the “underlying” sex crime.
It’s a crime to traffic any person by means of coercion, fraud or force that results in the victim engaging in:
As with child sex trafficking, each of these crimes has its own very specific requirements, meaning that evidence and proof must be presented for both the trafficking charge and the “underlying” sex crime.
Proving sex trafficking is no easy job for the state, since multiple people are often involved, and it’s difficult to establish who knew what and what the motives were. To address that problem, the Texas trafficking law specifically requires any party to the alleged crime to testify against other parties. In exchange, the party who testifies cannot:
And most importantly, the law explicitly says that even the uncorroborated testimony of someone who was a party to the trafficking offense is, by itself, sufficient to convict.
As noted earlier, sex trafficking cases are extremely complex. The prosecution has to prove all the elements of the trafficking offense, and of the many underlying sex crimes on which the trafficking charge is based; and your attorney has to be just as experienced with the subtleties of all these laws. You will find the experienced legal help you need from a top-rated Texas sex crimes attorney by contacting the Houston law firm of Mary Conn & Associates.
Mary Conn has the long experience and judgment required to successfully defend these trafficking cases. She brings to your defense more than 30 years of experience defending sex crimes, and understands how the charges affect defendants and their families. Experience is invaluable in so many ways, including spotting the telltale signs of victims fabricating claims, dealing with a prosecutor trying to sensationalize the case for his/her own purposes, and dealing with the possibility that someone who was involved in trafficking may offer testimony against someone uninvolved or marginally involved, to save himself.
If you have been charged with sex trafficking, call the top rated Houston sex crime defense attorney Mary E. Conn today.