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sex trafficking

Sex Trafficking Victims – Investigation Reveals They Are Still Losing Out

By Peek & Toland on November 10, 2017

Six months after an investigation revealed sex trafficking victims were losing out in Texas, the situation has improved little, according to a report.

Earlier this year, a Texas Tribune series of articles exposed how a campaign against sex trafficking over the last 10 years did little to help victims.  Children have proved to be particularly vulnerable.

The Tribune article noted how the 2017 legislative session, which ended in May, once again concentrated on sex traffickers rather than their victims.

The article claimed the legislators stripped money for the victims of sex traffickers behind closed doors.

sex trafficking victims lose out

The Texas legislature passed some get-tough measures targeted at sex traffickers. They included.

Increasing the Sanctions for Prostitution

The Texas legislature increased the penalties for people who are involved in the “promotion of prostitution.”

Rather than directly selling sex these acts could include driving a seller to meet a buyer or posting an ad for sex online.

Boosting Education and Public Outreach on Sex Trafficking

New bills were sent to the desk of Governor Greg Abbott requiring truck drivers to receive training on sex trafficking and posting signs in strip clubs, abortion clinics and hospital emergency rooms aimed at reaching potential trafficking victims.

Refinements to the nuisance laws would make it easier to close down massage parlors that are a front for prostitution.

The Tribune reported legislators were less successful in enacting changes that would benefit the victims of sex trafficking.

For instance, many sex trafficking victims wind up in the criminal justice system charged with crimes such as prostitution, theft, and drug possession.

A sex trafficker may have helped them commit these crimes. A bill that would have made it easier for them to expunge their criminal records was backed in the House but foundered in the Senate Criminal Justice Committee.

A bill that was aimed at reducing the penalties for selling sex in Texas never made it to a vote in either chamber.

All too frequently the victims of sex trafficking end up in jail because Texas lacks facilities to help them, the Tribune reported.

If you have been charged with an offense of this nature, our Austin criminal defense lawyers can help you. Please call us at (512) 474-4445 or contact us here.

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Supreme Court Refused to Block Subpoenas against Backpage.com in Sex Trafficking Case

By Peek & Toland on November 24, 2016

In recent years, there has been considerable speculation linking the website Backpage.com to allegations of sex trafficking.

The activities of Backpage.com have recently come under the scrutiny of a Senate committee which has subpoenaed the controversial website.

In October, agents in Texas raided the Dallas headquarters of the adult classified site and arrested Carl Ferrer, its chief executive officer. The raid followed allegations that both adult and child sex-trafficking victims were forced into prostitution via escort ads posted on Backpage.com.

Action taken against Backpage over sex trafficking

The action comes after the Center for Missing and Exploited Children identified the website as a major online marketplace for sex trafficking ads on the Internet.

The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations took the rare step of issuing the subpoena last year, reported CNN Money.

However, the subpoena was not answered. The committee then held Backpage.com to be in contempt of Congress – an action it has not taken for two decades.

Actions like this are always of interest to us as Austin criminal defense attorneys. Opponents claim Congress is interfering with the Constitution.

Backpage.com claimed the First Amendment protected it from adhering to the Senate’s demands.

The U.S. Supreme Court stated otherwise. In a recent judgment, it denied Backpage’s request to block the subpoena. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself from the decision.

Suspected Child Sex Trafficking on Backpage.com

Sex trafficking of any kind is a serious and shocking crime that causes terrible trauma to its victims. However, there are some areas of concern in the recent Supreme Court’s decision.

CNN contributor Stephen Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, said the case has serious implications and labeled it “an absolute quagmire in First Amendment doctrine.” He said.

“The whole fight is about whether and to what extent the First Amendment protects online publishers of third-party content (like Backpage).”

Backpage functions like Craigslist. People are able to post ads on it. In recent years many of the ads for adult services have moved from Craigslist to Backpage.

Backpage said it combats human trafficking. The company pointed out it  screens posts for unlawful activities like sex trafficking. The Senate subcommittee has taken a different view. Its members claim Backpage helps sex traffickers by helping to shield them from detection.

Senate investigators claim Backpage screens its posts before they appear online, and actively deletes key words that could alert law enforcement officials to criminal activity.

The arrest of Ferrer seems to have upped the stakes. He was arrested on a warrant from California after arriving at Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport from Amsterdam reported ABC news.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton accused Backpage of perpetrating “modern day slavery” in the state.

Sex trafficking crimes are treated very seriously by the authorities. If you are charged with crimes of this nature, you should call our Austin criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible at (512) 474-4445.

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