Texas Teens Face Sex Trafficking of Minors ChargesPublished: Jul 04, 2016 in Criminal Defense, Sex Crimes
Human trafficking is a major focus of Texas law enforcement agencies. Trafficking is a complex and serious crime; however, sometimes those accused of trafficking are not actually criminals. The innocent family, friends, and employees of sex traffickers may also be at risk. If you have been charged with a sex trafficking crime, you need an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney on your side. Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.
Teenagers Becoming Involved in Human Trafficking
There is no age restriction on human trafficking charges. Texas authorities recently charged and convicted multiple teenagers with forcing underage girls into prostitution.
Luis Rivera of Irving was only 19 years old when he was sentenced to prison after being convicted of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of children. Federal authorities say that Rivera forced four minor girls, including a 12-year-old, to act as prostitutes.
Mike Osorio and Rafael Roday, both of Dallas, were also 19 years old when they were charged with trafficking, sexual assault, and forced prostitution after a 15-year-old girl escaped their captivity and told authorities about her ordeal.
Under Texas Penal Code Section 20A.02, anyone who knowingly traffics a person with the intent to force that person into labor or services is guilty of human trafficking. While the labor and services do not have to be related to sex, many trafficking victims are forced into prostitution or promoting prostitution.
Additionally, anyone who knowingly benefits from participating in trafficking or receives labor or services from the victims, including sexual conduct, is also guilty of a human trafficking related offense under the law. This means people other than the actual traffickers may be found guilty of human trafficking.
Depending on the exact situation, including whether the victims were children and whether they were forced into prostitution, human trafficking can be sentenced as a second- or first-degree felony. A second-degree felony is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, but a first-degree felony is punishable by up to 99 years or life in prison. Both can include a $10,000 fine.
Human Trafficking & the Internet
Human trafficking does not always involve immigrants and border crossings. With the advancement of technology and social media forums, the internet has been a concern for law enforcement agencies targeting trafficking.
In an attempt to curtail human trafficking on the internet, law enforcement officers may take drastic steps to catch potential criminals. This may even include baiting people as they have on the television show “To Catch a Predator.” Inexperienced teenagers may be caught in such situations without knowing what they are doing.
Do You Need Legal Advice?
If you have been charged with human trafficking or a related charge, contact a Houston sex crimes attorney right away. Ned Barnett has more than 30 years of experience as a prosecutor and criminal defense attorney. He knows Texas law and will aggressively advocate for you in court.
Call the Law Offices of Ned Barnett at (713) 222-6767 to schedule a free consultation.