“Human trafficking” covers a number of different criminal acts. Generally speaking, trafficking involves one person forcing another person to engage in labor or services for another. Many people commonly associate human trafficking with illegal sexual activities. This is, indeed, part of what Texas’ human trafficking statute covers.

Trafficking Sexual Conduct

The types of conduct associated with illegal sexual activities include the following:

  • Having sex in exchange for money, or offering to perform sex acts for money (prostitution);
  • Receiving money or other compensation from another by having sex, or offering another person to engage in sexual acts for compensation (promotion of prostitution);
  • Knowingly participating in a “prostitution enterprise” by promoting prostitution of two or more people (aggravated promotion of prostitution); or
  • Using threats, force, or fraud to compel another to commit prostitution (compelling prostitution).

If the person being offered for sexual activity is a minor, the list of conduct expands to include sexual abuse of a child, indecency with a child, sexual assault, sexual performance by a child, and possession of or promotion of child pornography.

Trafficking Other Labor or Services

Texas law is not limited to sex trafficking. When one person forces or coerces another person to perform any form of labor or service, this can be considered trafficking under the law. Additionally, if a person benefits from a venture that involves forcing another to perform labor or services, they can be guilty of trafficking. Benefitting from the trafficking includes receiving payment for the conduct, but it can also include receiving the services, labor, or sexual activity performed by the trafficked person.

Trafficking of persons is generally a second-degree felony, but in certain circumstances, is a first-degree felony.

Penal Code Sec. 20A.02

TRAFFICKING OF PERSONS

(a)  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:

(A)  Section 21.02 (Continuous Sexual Abuse of Young Child or Children);

(B)  Section 21.11 (Indecency with a Child);

(C)  Section 22.011 (Sexual Assault);

(D)  Section 22.021 (Aggravated Sexual Assault);

(E)  Section 43.02 (Prostitution);

(F)  Section 43.03 (Promotion of Prostitution);

(G)  Section 43.04 (Aggravated Promotion of Prostitution);

(H)  Section 43.05 (Compelling Prostitution);

(I)  Section 43.25 (Sexual Performance by a Child);

(J)  Section 43.251 (Employment Harmful to Children); or

(K)  Section 43.26 (Possession or Promotion of Child Pornography); or

(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).

(b)  Except as otherwise provided by this subsection, an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.  An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree if:

(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.

(c)  If conduct constituting an offense under this section also constitutes an offense under another section of this code, the actor may be prosecuted under either section or under both sections.

(d)  If the victim of an offense under Subsection (a)(7)(A) is the same victim as a victim of an offense under Section 21.02, a defendant may not be convicted of the offense under Section 21.02 in the same criminal action as the offense under Subsection (a)(7)(A) unless the offense under Section 21.02:

(1)  is charged in the alternative;

(2)  occurred outside the period in which the offense alleged under Subsection (a)(7)(A) was committed; or

(3)  is considered by the trier of fact to be a lesser included offense of the offense alleged under Subsection (a)(7)(A).

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