Buying Sex is Now a Felony Under Texas Law
On September 1, 2021, an amended law took effect in the state of Texas. This changed the current charge of ‘solicitation of prostitution’ or purchasing sex from a Class B misdemeanor to a state jail felony that includes harsher punishments.
The passage of this law marks Texas as the first state in the U.S. to make the crime of buying sex a felony. The new law under House Bill 1540 also penalizes individuals who attempt to lure victims from shelters and treatment facilities for use as prostitutes.
If you are accused of solicitation of prostitution in Texas moving forward, you can face serious felony penalties, including possible time in jail. You should contact a Plano criminal defense attorney for help right away.
Details Regarding Solicitation of Prostitution
Under the previous version of the law, those individuals convicted of buying sex received no more than 180 days in jail and a fine of no more than $2,000. Individuals convicted for second offenses related to prostitution faced more severe punishments associated with a Class A misdemeanor, which includes up to one year in prison and a fine of no more than $4,000.
The new bill forces offenders to face a state jail felony charge for the first offense. The punishment includes no more than two years in jail and a fine of no more than $10,000. If an individual is convicted a second time under the new law, then the charge becomes a third-degree felony. The punishment associated with this offense includes a prison sentence between two and ten years, as well as a fine of no more than $10,000.
Human Trafficking and The Purpose of House Bill 1540
The Texas legislature believes that those who support prostitution by purchasing sex are also supporting human trafficking and the crime, drug use, and abuse associated with buying and selling human beings. However, many crimes involving the purchase and sale of sex do not contribute to criminal organizations involved in human trafficking.
Not every act involving prostitution is linked to human trafficking. Undercover stings in strip clubs could lead to felony charges under this new law. If an individual is facing a felony charge, they need to seek legal representation immediately. Prostitution solicitation is now punishable as a felony under Texas law, so it is now more important than ever for individuals accused of this offense to know the consequences associated with the allegations.
Texas has historically treated people engaging in prostitution as criminals, although many people selling sex may be victims of human trafficking. Advocates against human trafficking believe that these individuals should receive mental health treatment, job assistance, and housing instead of criminal charges. This is reflected in the new law, as individuals who pay for sex are now the ones targeted by law enforcement agencies in the state of Texas.
Speak with a Plano Sex Crime Defense Attorney Today
Having a felony charge or conviction is a serious problem for anyone in Texas, and a felony record can have lasting effects. Hiring the best legal representation available is essential to protecting your freedom and reputation. Contact the law office of J. Michael Price II as soon as possible.