Human trafficking refers to selling or trading a person, typically in the sex and domestic care industries, against their will. Kidnapping, another crime, is defined as knowingly or intentionally abducting someone against their will. Parental kidnapping occurs when a relative abducts another relative against their will. In Texas, another type of kidnapping or human trafficking charge is called smuggling of persons.

What Is Smuggling of Persons in Texas?

Smuggling of persons is a crime in Texas that occurs when there is an intent to obtain a benefit by knowingly:

  • Inducing or encouraging someone to remain or enter in the United States in violation of immigration law by shielding, concealing, or harboring them from detection
  • Using a watercraft, motor vehicle, aircraft, or other type of transportation to conceal the individual from police
  • Using a motor vehicle, watercraft, aircraft, or other mode of transportation to flee from a police officer who is conducting a lawful arrest

If the smuggling lasts 10 or more days and two or more of the actions listed above are engaged in, then the crime is continuous smuggling of persons.

Is the Crime of Smuggling of Persons a Misdemeanor in Texas?

No, it is not a misdemeanor. The crime is a felony. The specific felony depends on the circumstances involved.

When Is Smuggling a Person a Second Degree Felony?

Smuggling a person is a felony in the second degree under Texas law when a person creates a substantial likelihood the smuggled individual will die or suffer serious bodily injury. The smuggling of a person is also a second degree felony if the smuggled individual is a minor younger than 18 years old. The punishment is:

  • Two to 20 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Both a fine and prison time

When Is Smuggling an Individual a First Degree Felony?

A person can be charged with first degree felonious smuggling of individuals when:

  • The prosecution shows at trial the smuggled individual was a victim of sexual assault
  • The smuggled individual died
  • The smuggled individual suffered serious bodily harm

The punishment for a first degree felony charge in Texas is:

  • Five to 99 years in prison
  • $10,000 fine
  • Both a fine and prison time

Should I Contact a Lawyer about My Case?

Due to the complexity of a smuggling of persons charge, you will need the assistance of a lawyer to successfully fight it. It is important to talk to a Texas criminal lawyer about your case and how you can resolve it in your favor.