Texas House Bill 1540 passed the House and Senate in May and was signed by Governor Abbott in June.
The legislation goes into effect on September 1, 2021. The new law is aimed at cracking down on human trafficking here in the state of Texas.
State Rep. Senfronia Thompson, the primary author of House Bill 1540 stated that the demand for prostitution is the driving force behind human trafficking.
Thompson further said, “if we can curb or stamp out the demand end of it, then we can save the lives of numerous persons.”
According to a 2016 human trafficking study from the Statewide Human Trafficking Mapping Project, there are an estimated 234,000 victims of labor trafficking and 79,000 victims of youth and minor sex trafficking in Texas on any given day.
Attorney General Ken Paxton commented on the new law saying, “Texas is the first in the country to punish sex buyers with felonies, which is a substantial step towards curbing the demand for commercial sex.
Human trafficking is modern-day slavery – targeting vulnerable men, women, and children in our communities. I commend our legislature for passing laws that fight this inexcusable offense.”
Sex trafficking of minors in Texas cost taxpayers an estimated $6.6 billion a year according to a University of Texas study done in 2016.
On September 1, 2021, Section 43.021 of the Texas Penal Code makes it a felony in Texas to offer or agree to pay another person for the purpose of engaging in sexual conduct with that person or another.
A person’s first offense under the new law is a State Jail Felony and is punishable by 180 days to 2 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
A second offense under the new law or previous prostitution law, Section 43.02(b), is a third-degree felony and punishable by 2-10 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
The offense will become a second-degree felony if the actor agrees to engage in sexual conduct with a person younger than 18 years of age regardless of the actor’s knowledge of the person’s age, the person represents themselves to the actor as being under 18 years of age, or the actor believes the person to be under 18 years of age.
A second-degree felony is punishable by 2 to 20 years in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Texas Health and Human Services: Provider Guidebook: Services for Victims of Human Trafficking in Texas
About The Attorney
Attorney Morgan’s practice focuses on criminal law and criminal defense.
She is a spring 2021 graduate of Southern Illinois University School of Law where she received her Juris Doctorate and graduated Cum Laude.
Morgan uses her passion for criminal law to make sure every client is afforded the protections that our Constitution has given them.