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Human Trafficking Crimes in Texas

Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02 provides for the criminal offense of trafficking of persons. The penalties for these offenses are very serious. In fact, a charge of "continuous trafficking of persons" is punishable by life.

In many of these cases, the lower level participants are charged with the most serious criminal offenses. Often, law enforcement officers have a difficult time distinguishing between those who should be held criminal responsible from those who are victimized by the higher level participants. In many of these cases, the higher level participants escape any charges or prosecution at all.

Texas Human Trafficking Lawyer

Criminal defense attorneys at Stuckle & Associates PLLC represent clients on a variety of prostitution and solicitation charges including serious felony offenses for promoting prostitution, compelling prostitution or trafficking in persons.

Call (972) 423-4405 today to discuss your case with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Plano, TX. At Stuckle & Associates PLLC we represent clients throughout the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area.


Plano Human Trafficking Information Center


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Elements of the Trafficking in Persons Statute in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02, the crime of trafficking of persons provides that 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:
  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).

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Penalties for Human Trafficking in Texas

A charge for human trafficking can be charged as a felony of the second degree. The penalties are enhanced to a felony of the first degree if and of the following aggravated factors are proven:

  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.

The penalties can also be harsh because if the conduct constituting human trafficking, the prosecutor can also charge any other offenses under another code section that might apply. It is not a violation of double jeopardy to prosecute the defense under either or both sections.


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Definitions under the Texas Human Trafficking Statute

The following definitions are set out in the Human Trafficking statute in Texas as follows:

  • “traffic" - “to transport, entice, recruit, harbor, provide, or otherwise obtain another person by any means;”
  • “forced labor or services" - “labor or services, other than labor or services that constitute sexual conduct, that are performed or provided by another person and obtained through an actor's use of force, fraud, or coercion.”
  • “child" -  “a person younger than 18 years of age.”

The term “sexual conduct" is defined by Section 43.25.


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Continuous Trafficking of Persons in Texas

Enhanced penalties apply to Texas Penal Code Section 20A.03 for continuous trafficking of person. The statute provides:

(a) A person commits an offense if, during a period that is 30 or more days in duration, the person engages two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20A.02.

(b)  If a jury is the trier of fact, members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on which specific conduct engaged in by the defendant constituted an offense under  Section 20A.02 or on which exact date the defendant engaged in that conduct.  The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant, during a period that is 30 or more days in duration, engaged in conduct that constituted an offense under Section 20A.02.

The offense of "continuous trafficking of persons" under this section is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 25 years.


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Additional Resources

Prosecuting Human Trafficking Crimes in Texas - Visit the website of the Texas District & County Attorneys Association (TDCAA) to learn more about Prosecuting Human Traffickers. The article is a “primer on how Dallas County prosecutors go after the criminals in these cases, where the victims are oftentimes unsympathetic and uncooperative.”  Read more about human trafficking which refers to harboring, transporting, recruiting for the  purpose of forcing them into labor through coercion, fraud or force. The article focused on why prosecutors focus on these charges, how the charges are investigated, options for charging the offenses, and ways to successfully prosecute the cases.

Assessing the Threat of Human Trafficking in Texas - Unclassified publication by the Department of Public Safety on Human Trafficking in Texas. The State Intelligence Estimate was produced in collaboration with other law enforcement agencies and homeland security agencies. The publication is an unclassified version of a Law Enforcement Sensitive assessment. Amount the redacted information in the original assessment is a body of investigation and intelligence information related to involvement of gangs and Mexican cartels in certain aspects of human smuggling and human trafficking activities in Texas. The article explains that in Texas, human trafficking crimes are committed by criminal organizations and individual criminals who target male and female victims of different ages, nationalities, and socioeconomic classes.

The Lost Girls - Article in the Texas Monthly published in April of 2010, entitled “The Lost Girls.” The article tells the story of how thousands of women have been trafficked into working as prostitute in Texas in the underground sex trade. The story tells how for these women escaping from captivity may be the easiest part of the difficult road to recovery. The article cites 2008 Department of Justice report figured that between 14,500 and 17,500 people were being trafficked into the country every year. Many estimate that about 70 percent of trafficking victims end up working in the sex trade.

National Human Trafficking Resource Center - Find information on human trafficking crimes in Texas. Human trafficking is often considered a form of modern slavery. The NHTRC works with law enforcement, service providers and other professionals in Texas to help the victims of trafficking and to share information and resources. Find statistics related to venues, industries, or caller information including the total number of calls, the total cases, and the total number of victims in each state. The 2015 statistics for human trafficking in Texas are current as of June 30, 2015. The statistics show 9,253 total calls, 2,035 total cases, and 2,452 total victims.


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Defense Attorneys for Human Trafficking in Plano, Texas

One of the most serious charges under Texas law is human trafficking or continuous trafficking of persons. If you are charged with any prostitution or solicitation charge, including compelling prostitution, promoting prostitution or trafficking, then contact a criminal defense attorney at Stuckle & Associates PLLC.

We represent clients throughout Plano, TX, and the surrounding areas in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area. Call (972) 423-4405 to discuss your case. We can begin your defense today.