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Houston Human Sex Trafficking Defense Attorney

What is Human Sex Trafficking?

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 on Sex Trafficking

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 carries 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).

The act of trafficking is broadly defined to include:

  • Transporting the victim
  • Enticing the victim
  • Recruiting the victim
  • Harboring the victim
  • Providing the victim

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. Contact a Houston prostitution defense attorney if you have been accused of these crimes.

Sex Trafficking of Children

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:

  • Continuous sexual abuse
  • Indecency with a child
  • Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
  • Prostitution, promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution or compelling prostitution
  • Sexual performance by a child
  • Employment harmful to children
  • Possession or Promotion of child pornography

There are very specific requirements for each of these listed crimes, which complicates the case considerably. Evidence and proof necessarily have to be presented for both the trafficking charge and the “underlying” sex crime. Contact Mary E. Conn if you have any questions, our Houston child pornography defense lawyer can help you and defend your rights.

Trafficking of Adults

It’s a crime to traffic any person by means of coercion, fraud or force that results in the victim engaging in:

  • Prostitution
  • Promotion or aggravated promotion of prostitution
  • Compelling prostitution

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.

Use of Accomplice Testimony

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:

  • Be prosecuted for any crimes about which he testifies
  • Have the testimony used against him in any other “adjudicatory” proceeding (other than for perjury)

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.

Get Quality, Experienced Legal Representation when facing Human Sex Trafficking Charges

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 lawyer Mary E. Conn today.

During the COVID-19 crisis, Mary Conn Law is working and available to discuss your case with you. Contact us today.