Texas Leads the Way for Making Purchasing Sex a Felony

By Jose Ceja
Managing Attorney

It’s not new that buying sex is illegal. However, as of September 1, 2021, prostitution in Texas will become more serious. A new state law, House Bill 1540, makes purchasing sex, which was previously a Class B misdemeanor, a felony. Along with this change come more serious penalties. Texas is the first state in the country to make buying sex a felony. 

The bill was passed in the state House and Senate in May and also increases the consequences for those who attempt to recruit people from shelters and certain residential treatment facilities to be used as prostitutes.

Increased Punishments 

Before this new law was enacted, those who purchased sex, commonly referred to as “johns,” and were caught and charged faced up to $2,000 in fines and up to 180 days in jail if convicted.  Those who were convicted a subsequent time, faced up to $4,000 in fines and up to one year in prison.

However, under the newly enacted law, those convicted of buying or selling sex will face up to $10,000 in fines and 180 days to 2 years in state prison. Should someone be convicted a second time under the new law, it would be considered a third-degree felony and the time imprisoned would increase from 2-10 years.

A big motivation for the new law is the way in which johns have been seen by Texas legislators. They now view those who purchase sex as supporters of human trafficking. This is not to say that prostitution is all human trafficking – in fact many cases involve no human trafficking. However, the new law also increases the penalties for that as well.

The belief is that if the demand for prostitution no longer exists, prostitution will no longer exist. This is the same for human trafficking. 

Human trafficking in Texas

Texas, along with California, has the most human trafficking in the country. This is why the new law is so important. Lawmakers hope that this can help to decrease the amount of human trafficking that is occurring daily. 

It’s important to note that not every person who is caught up in sex sting operations is guilty of purchasing sex. With the new, more strict law, it’s very important that law enforcement look at the details of each case separately before coming to any conclusions. 

The Attorneys at Ceja Law Firm Help Those in Houston Who Have Been Charged with Prostitution (Buying or Selling Sex)

If you have been charged with prostitution, it’s very important that you take it seriously. If convicted, this could have a negative impact on so much of your life – for the rest of your life.

At Ceja Law Firm PLLC, we understand the serious nature of such a criminal charge and how it can affect you. That’s why we will work to help you obtain the best possible outcome. To learn more or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today!

About the Author
Jose Ceja is the managing attorney of Ceja Law Firm. He has practiced law since 2007 and has devoted his career to the practice of criminal law. Mr. Ceja began his legal career as a felony drug prosecutor, where he prosecuted drug, gang, and violent offenses. Mr. Ceja has first or second chaired almost 100 trials, including murders, drug cases, DWIs, and assaults. In his career as a defense attorney, he has regularly obtained dismissals, not guilty verdicts, and grand jury “no bills” in a wide variety of cases.