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Lawmakers impose harsher penalties to human trafficking crimes

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The consequences stemming from sex crimes are serious, ranging from hefty fines and jail time to long-term damage to one's reputation. Human trafficking is one particular sex crime however that is under weighty analysis by Texas legislators at the moment.

Human trafficking is a federal crime and is often combined with other charges such as sexual assault and online solicitation. The state of Texas however receives the largest number of trafficking hotline calls in the country. In response to this statistic, Governor Rick Perry signed a bill into law which permits courts to sentence individuals convicted of trafficking crimes to up to 99 years in prison. And, the state proposes to get even tougher.

According to some prosecutors, there is not a good way to determine whether current criminal laws are deterring human trafficking crimes. Thus, their answer to the questionable effectiveness of the law is the urge lawmakers to impose harsher penalties to not only operators of human trafficking but also to business owners. The state is now pushing legislators to impose civil penalties on business owners, such as massage parlors, who do not hire properly licensed employees.

An additional concern that prosecutors and other state advocates site is that the victims of sex crimes are the only ones being caught. While federal law makes it clear that anyone under the age of 18 is a victim of human trafficking, some believe that the state still fails to prosecute those individuals that are not victims.

Conviction for trafficking in the state of Texas has now become even more of a serious endeavor. Proper legal counsel is vital if one is accused of any trafficking crime.

Source: The Texas Tribune, "Lawmakers Urged to Penalize Trafficking Businesses," Maurice Chammah, Sept. 25, 2012 

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