Prostitution might frequently be referred to as the world’s oldest profession, but there’s no denying that things have changed over the years regarding the sex industry.
Today, people who are involved in illegal sex trafficking schemes frequently use modern technology to commit their crimes. In fact, 2020 brought a 22 percent increase in online recruitment attempts for human trafficking, which could be partly attributed to the physical locations where criminals typically seek out their victims being inaccessible during COVID-19 lockdowns.
While some of the people who are arrested for online prostitution are willing adults, it’s important to note that many others might be wrapped up in the human trafficking trade against their will. Sadly, Facebook had to remove 17.8 million posts that involved the sexual exploitation of children in 2020 alone.
In an effort to curb prostitution that’s linked to human trafficking, Texas recently enacted new online prostitution laws that are meant to decrease the risk of becoming a victim for both adults and children. Taking a look at these laws provides further insight into the consequences that anyone who participates in these crimes can face.
What is online promotion of prostitution?
On September 1, 2019, Texas enacted new laws regarding the “Online Promotion of Prostitution.” This offense applies to anyone who uses a computer service or information content provider with the intended purpose of promoting the prostitution of another person or with the intent to assist another person with engaging in prostitution.
What’s the punishment for online promotion of prostitution?
Under the new laws, a 1st offense for Online Promotion of Prostitution in Texas is a state jail felony, which comes with a punishment of up to 2 years in state prison (with a minimum of 180 days) and a fine of up to $10,000.
A 2nd offense is considered a 3rd-degree felony, which now comes with a punishment of 2 to 10 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Any offense involving a minor under the age of 18, regardless of whether the defendant knew the person was a minor, is considered a 2nd-degree felony, which comes with a punishment of 2 to 20 years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
If you live in Texas or plan on visiting in the near future, you should try to avoid committing a crime as the offense could result in fines or jail time. However, there are some offenses that are considered a bit more serious than others.
What is aggravated online promotion of prostitution?
Charges can also be elevated to an aggravated status in certain cases. This occurs if the person being charged with the crime is involved in an operation that includes 5 or more prostitutes. This can also be classified as a 2nd-degree felony, but it can be further escalated to a 1st-degree felony if the crime involves a person under the age of 18.
What is compelling prostitution?
Texas law defines compelling prostitution as an act that forces or convinces a person to engage in prostitution and allows someone to be charged with compelling prostitution if the victim involved was under the age of 18, even if the defendant was unaware of the person’s status as a minor.
It’s also important to note that despite the increased focus on victim-centered training for law enforcement officers established by the Trafficking Victims Protection Act, minors in Texas can also be arrested and charged with prostitution.
In fact, in 2019 alone, 290 youth under the age of 17 were arrested for prostitution, and many of these children will face consequences for crimes that they were too young to consent to in the first place.
When to contact a sex crime defense attorney
If you find yourself dealing with the devastating effects of the inconsistency within the laws of Texas regarding the treatment of those who are charged with online prostitution, it’s vital to consult an experienced sex crime defense attorney.
The penalties for this type of crime are harsh and can have a devastating impact on a person’s ability to move forward with their life. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to protect your rights to privacy and ensure that any evidence against you that was illegally obtained won’t be used against you in court.