Paying for Sex Became a Felony in Texas on September 1st, 2021

A new law (House Bill 1540) went into effect in Texas on September 1, 2021, making buying sex a felony, which is a first.

Therefore, you can be charged with a felony in the state of Texas if you are caught paying for sex. Before this law went into effect, it actually wasn’t against the law in Texas to buy sex. But now it is illegal. Those flouting the law can now face felony charges and prison time.

This article discusses the new law, and the repercussions people face if they are found guilty of human trafficking in Texas.

House Bill 1540

The Human Trafficking Prevention Taskforce’s omnibus HB 1540 makes it against the law to buy sex in Texas.

When someone pays an adult for sex, they can now be charged with a felony and face the associated penalties, which include jail time. If they are tried and convicted, they can be sentenced to jail for up to two years, and also be fined as much as $10,000.

HB 1540 Created to Reduce Human Trafficking in Texas

The goal of enacting HB 1540 is to lower how much human trafficking goes on in Texas.

Human trafficking is the act of enticing, recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or in some way obtaining a human by any means whatsoever to either work in commercial sex or in forced labor of some kind.

HB 1540 makes the trafficking of adults a separate offense from that of children.

Trafficking an adult is when an individual:

  • Knowingly trafficks someone over the age of 18 for forced labor
  • Receives some sort of benefit from getting this person trafficked
  • Uses fraud, force, or a form of coercion to traffick an adult

The illegality is the same for trafficking children, which by definition are people under 18 years of age. The difference is the penalties, which are more severe for trafficking children. This is because they frequently involve aggravated sexual assault of a child, ongoing sexual abuse, and/or promoting prostitution of a child.

Severe Penalties for Those Convicted of Human Trafficking

Human trafficking in Texas is now a felony that comes with severe penalties under HB 1540. Upon conviction, you can be sentenced to a prison term of up to 99 years, along with a $10,000 fine for first-degree charges. Upon conviction of second-degree charges, you face up to 20 years in prison, plus a fine of $10,000.

If you have been charged with purchasing sex you may be facing a felony and should retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Call our office for a free consultation!