Penalties for Human Trafficking in Texas

If you are a victim of human trafficking call the human trafficking hotline: 1-888-3737-888


Texas has one of the highest rates of human trafficking in the United States, with an estimated 234,000 victims of trafficking in the state at any given time. This includes 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking. If you have been accused of human trafficking, the penalties are severe.


Categorization of Human Trafficking Under State and Federal Law

Human trafficking is always a felony in Texas, but whether it’s a second or first-degree felony depends on whether the human being trafficked was a minor and/or it resulted in their death. 

Human trafficking is also a federal crime. Under the Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000, those found guilty of human trafficking can receive penalties up to life in prison. 


State Laws

The specific laws in Texas define trafficking as knowingly transporting, recruiting, harboring, providing, or otherwise obtaining a person for the purpose of forced labor. A trafficked person is forced to commit acts of prostitution or labor through force, coercion, or fraud. 

If the person being trafficked is an adult and does not die due to factors from being trafficked, this classifies as a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony in Texas has penalties between two and 20 years and a fine of up to $10,000.


The penalties rise to a first-degree felony if the victim is a minor or dies due to instances resulting from being trafficked. The penalties for a first-degree felony in Texas are between five and 99 years imprisonment and up to a $10,000 fine. 


Federal Laws

Federal laws are similar to state laws, in that trafficking is defined in the same way. The federal law is more comprehensive than state law, as slavery was first federally outlawed by the thirteenth amendment in 1865, and the previously mentioned Victims of Trafficking and Violence Protection Act of 2000 has been updated and amended regularly. There are now further protections with the goals of reducing trafficking in the foster care system and further protections for the victims. It also increases criminal liability for buyers of commercial sex from trafficking victims.

Where state and federal law align again is in the penalties. Most cases of human trafficking are federally considered a felony, with up to 20 years in prison and high fees. Cases of child trafficking are considered maximum offenses, with a minimum of 10 years of prison time and up to a life sentence. 

Federal law also prohibits conspiring about human trafficking and requires the payment of restitution to the victim for their losses, the amount of which will be determined by the court.


Dealing with a Trafficking Charge

If you have a trafficking charge against you, you are likely in serious trouble, whether or not you are guilty. You will need to hire a criminal defense lawyer immediately. 


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