The sale or purchase of a child statute punishes several different types of conduct. First, if a person who has possession of, custody of, conservatorship of, or guardianship of a child (a person under the age of 18) accepts something of value in exchange for the delivery of the child to another for the purpose of adopting, this may be a violation of the law. (There are exceptions to this, which will be discussed further below.)
Second, if a person in possession or lawful custody, conservatorship, or guardianship of a child offers to accept, or agrees to accept a thing of value in exchange for the child, this mere discussion can result in charges of the sale or purchase of the child. This can be true even where no money or thing of value is exchanged. Finally, if a person offers to give, agrees to give, or does give a thing of value in exchange for either acquiring or keeping a child for the purpose of adoption, this can be a criminal offense.
Exceptions to Sale or Purchase of a Child
There are certain exceptions to offering things of value that are permissible under the law. These include the following:
- A fee or reimbursement paid to a child placing agency, where authorized by law;
- Fees to attorneys, social workers, and other professionals in the usual course of legal, medical, or adoption counseling practice;
- Reimbursement of legal or medical expenses for the benefit of the child; or
- Necessary pregnancy related expenses as permitted by law.
Punishment for Sale and Purchase of a Child
Sale or Purchase of a child is a felony in the third degree in most circumstances, punishable by a fine of up to $10,000, and a prison sentence of up to 10 years in prison, with a minimum sentence of two years.
Penal Code Sec. 25.08
SALE OR PURCHASE OF CHILD.
(a) A person commits an offense if he:
(1) possesses a child younger than 18 years of age or has the custody, conservatorship, or guardianship of a child younger than 18 years of age, whether or not he has actual possession of the child, and he offers to accept, agrees to accept, or accepts a thing of value for the delivery of the child to another or for the possession of the child by another for purposes of adoption; or
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(2) offers to give, agrees to give, or gives a thing of value to another for acquiring or maintaining the possession of a child for the purpose of adoption.
(b) It is an exception to the application of this section that the thing of value is:
(1) a fee or reimbursement paid to a child-placing agency as authorized by law;
(2) a fee paid to an attorney, social worker, mental health professional, or physician for services rendered in the usual course of legal or medical practice or in providing adoption counseling;
(3) a reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred by a person for the benefit of the child; or
(4) a necessary pregnancy-related expense paid by a child-placing agency for the benefit of the child’s parent during the pregnancy or after the birth of the child as permitted by the minimum standards for child-placing agencies and Department of Protective and Regulatory Services rules.
(c) An offense under this section is a felony of the third degree, except that the offense is a felony of the second degree if the actor commits the offense with intent to commit an offense under Section 20A.02, 43.02, 43.05, or 43.25.