Hiring a Prostitute Is Now A Felony In Texas
Recently, Texas implemented a new law which as of September, 1st, 2021 makes the act of purchasing sex a felony.
Senfronia Thompson, a Democratic representative initially filed HB 1540 and it was then passed by both chambers of the Texas State legislature. After this passage, it was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott. The signing of this law makes the act of paying for sex a separate offense that now comes with a penalty of a state jail felony. This means those that are found guilty of paying for sex can now face jail time.
While it may seem that the purchase of sex was legal before HB 1540, that was not the case. Prostitution in all forms has been illegal in Texas for a long time and those that have purchased sex have always risked arrest.
This is according to Section 43.02 of the Texas Penal Code where it is stated that it is illegal for anyone to solicit a prostitute to engage in sexual acts for monetary compensation.
The key difference is that HB 1540 focuses on solicitation and has made that sole act a felony, even for a first offense.
Texas is the first state in the entire country to pass this type of law.
The new law has some additional teeth to discourage human trafficking as well. The law changes the current first-degree felony charge that is used for human trafficking to now include actions that someone may use to find a victim.
Additionally, if solicitation happens where alcohol is sold, Texas can now pull the business’ liquor license. The law also specifically mentions massage parlors and amends lawsuits involving prostitution.
Before HB 1540 was passed, solicitation of a prostitute was classified as a Class B misdemeanor. Under the new law, those who solicit a prostitute will now face a state jail felony or a third-degree felony depending on the circumstances. If the solicitation involves a minor, the charges are upgraded to a second degree felony.
Texas is only second to California when it comes to the rate of human trafficking in the United States so we can continue to see harsh penalties for those that engage in this type of activity.
If you or a loved one has been charged with the offense of purchasing sex, you will need an experienced and aggressive defense attorney at your side. Call our office today to schedule a free consultation.