In Texas, soliciting prostitution is about to become a felony. When H.B. No. 2795 takes effect on September 1, 2021, the state's prostitution law will change, and anyone found guilty of agreeing or offering to exchange money for sex will face increased penalties.
Currently, soliciting prostitution is prohibited under Texas Penal Code § 43.02. However, next month, portions of that law will be transferred to a new statute – Texas Penal Code § 43.021 – which will specifically concern solicitation offenses. The sections that will be moved over include Subsection (b), which defines the elements of solicitation, and Subsection (c), which enumerates the level of charges levied for a violation.
Right now, buying sex is a Class A misdemeanor, penalized by incarceration for up to 1 year and/or a fine of up to $4,000. The new law will make the offense a state jail felony. In Texas, this level of charge is punishable by incarceration for 180 days to 2 years and/or a maximum $10,000 fine. Additionally, a second violation will jump from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony, which carries a prison term of 2 to 10 years and/or a fine of $10,000.
When the law changes, Texas will be the first state to make solicitation a felony. As it is the state's aim to crack down on human trafficking crimes by severely penalizing those buying sex and increasing demand, you can expect the state to vehemently pursue anyone accused.
If you are charged with a serious sex crime like solicitation, it is imperative to aggressively fight the allegations with a skilled defense lawyer.