San Antonio Sex and Human Trafficking Lawyers
San Antonio Sex and Human Trafficking Lawyers
The United States and many other countries are increasingly aware of the problem of human trafficking. As a result, Texas authorities are intensifying their efforts to prosecute those suspected of committing or enabling human trafficking, and courts take allegations extremely seriously.
Lawmakers, ever mindful of the need to appear tough on crime, modify and create new sex trafficking laws with alarming regularity. Many of these statutes give the government broad powers to create a case against a defendant: for example, under 18 U.S.C. Section 1591, the federal sex trafficking statute, the prosecution may not even have to prove that a sex act was committed. Merely transporting a child while knowing that they will be compelled to engage in a commercial sex act is sufficient to trigger criminal liability.
If convicted of a human trafficking offense, you may face a lengthy prison term and a hefty fine, in addition to other collateral consequences such as lifetime sex offender registration. Federal sentencing guidelines for these crimes are especially harsh and usually result in deportation for non-citizens.
If you have been arrested for a crime related to sex and human trafficking in San Antonio, Texas, you need to contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC. Early intervention can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of your case.
Texas Laws on Sex and Human Trafficking
State law specifically prohibits the trafficking of anyone for forced labor or services or for sexual purposes. A series of offenses occurring within a specified time period constitutes “continuous” trafficking, a more serious crime punishable with especially severe punishments.
Trafficking includes the acts of enticing, harboring, providing, recruiting, and transporting the victim. Texas law distinguishes between children under the age of 18 and adults, primarily for the purpose of penalizing child traffickers as well as prohibiting certain types of sexual crimes.
Trafficking of Children
In San Antonio, modern-day human trafficking is a thriving enterprise despite being illegal. Minor children make up a significant percentage of victims. It is common for these young people to be used for child labor or to engage in unlawful sex acts, although activities such as enticing, recruiting, or transporting children are specifically prohibited by Texas law.
Trafficking any child under 18 by any means is a crime if the victim is forced to participate in:
- Continuous sexual abuse
- Employment harmful to children
- Indecency with a child
- Possession or promotion of child pornography
- Sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault
- Sexual performance by a child
Trafficking of Adults
It is illegal to coerce, deceive, or force anyone to engage in acts like the following:
- Compelling prostitution
- Promotion or aggravated promotion of prostitution
- Involuntary servitude
The exact punishment for a trafficking conviction in San Antonio, Texas will depend on the defendant’s prior criminal record as well as whether a weapon was used to commit the crime. Human trafficking is nevertheless a serious crime that is usually punished as a second-degree felony but may be punished as a first degree under certain circumstances. Depending on the severity of the offense, this could mean anywhere from five to 99 years in prison, a maximum fine of $10,000, and mandatory sex offender registration.
Federal Trafficking Penalties
The Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000, as amended, prohibits the following:
- Commercial sex trafficking involving force, fraud, or coercion, or involving a person under 18 who has been induced to perform such an act.
- Harboring, recruitment, transportation, or obtaining of labor or services through deception or coercion for the purpose of enslavement, debt bondage, or involuntary servitude.
Under 22 US Code § 7102(10), sex trafficking is defined as activities involving the use of a person for the purpose of a commercial sex act. Child sex trafficking or sex trafficking by force, fraud, or coercion is a federal crime under 18 U.S. Code § 1591.
In order to commit a federal sex trafficking offense, a person must knowingly:
- Advertise, entice, harbor, maintain, obtain, patronize, provide, recruit, or solicit a person in a manner involving interstate or foreign commerce or;
- Benefit (financially or otherwise) from participation in one or more of the ventures described above while knowing that the person is under 18 or being compelled to engage in a commercial sex act
Violations of 18 U.S. Code § 1591 are punishable as follows:
- If force, threats of force, fraud, or coercion were used to commit the offense, or any combination of such methods was used, or the victim had not reached the age of 14, a conviction would carry a fine of $250,000 as well as not less than 15 years to life in prison.
- At the time of the offense, if the victim was at least 14 years of age but not yet 18 years of age, a conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and a sentence of up to life in prison.
Anyone who obstructs, attempts to obstruct, or interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this law is subject to a fine of up to $250,000 and a prison sentence of up to 20 years. Additionally, offenders may have to forfeit any property and proceeds associated with their crimes.
Are There Any Defenses to Sex and Human Trafficking Charges?
Trafficking charges can make you feel like you’ve been found guilty before you even enter a courtroom, but there are defenses that may help to get the charges reduced or even dismissed. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of evidence
- Lack of probable cause
- Illegal search and seizure
- You had no illegal intent
- You had no financial incentive
- The alleged victim was a willing participant
- You didn’t know the victim’s immigration status
There are some situations in which you may be the victim yourself. Prosecutors have been known to bring trafficking charges against victims of sex or labor scams themselves. You can use affirmative defenses such as duress or fraud in this situation.
How Can Hunter, Lane & Jampala PLLC Help My Case?
As experienced San Antonio sex and human trafficking lawyers, we create defense strategies based on your unique circumstances and the evidence against you. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Although every case is different, we have a strong track record of finding holes in the prosecutor’s argument and discrediting the evidence against our client.
Our goal is always to get the charges dropped or obtain an acquittal at trial. Should that not be possible, our sex and human trafficking lawyers can negotiate for the most favorable outcome given the circumstances.
Schedule a Free Consultation with our San Antonio Sex and Human Trafficking Lawyers
If you believe you might be under investigation or you were already arrested for an alleged human trafficking crime in San Antonio, Texas call (866) 986-2436 to speak with one of our sex and human trafficking lawyers. A skilled and experienced attorney at our firm can offer you an aggressive defense strategy that takes all the evidence in your favor and turns it into a compelling argument for a dismissal of the charges or acquittal. When highly emotional charges like human trafficking are involved, a well-prepared defense can make a difference in your future.