Texas is tough on crime, and a recent move by the state makes it clear just how tough they are willing to get. In fact, Texas just made a certain kind of name for itself by becoming the first state in the nation to make a first charge of solicitation of prostitution a felony. This is a serious step that will have serious legal implications for those who face solicitation charges.
House Bill 2795
When House Bill 2795 goes into effect on September 1, 2021, the act of either offering to or accepting an offer to engage in sexual conduct in exchange for money will move from a Class A misdemeanor to a state jail felony. Before this date, a conviction would earn the accused up to a year in jail and fines of up to $4,000. After this quickly approaching date, a conviction can earn the accused from 180 days to two years in jail and fines of up to $10,000. Ultimately, HB 2795 specifically addresses first offenses related to the solicitation of prostitution, but things become even more serious if it is not a first offense, including:
The charge is elevated from a state jail felony to a third-degree felony.
A conviction garners 2 to 10 years in prison.
A conviction comes with fines of up to $10,000.
Any charges involving minors are that much more serious.
The Purchase of Sex
Texas takes a very hard line when it comes to the purchase of sex, which is what solicitation boils down to. While there are states that adopt a more hands-off approach (and prostitution is actually legal in some counties in Nevada), none of this is true in Texas, which is known for going its own way. Texas has always come down hard on those seeking to purchase sex in the state, but this new law takes a much stronger stance.
The Attorney General of Texas Weighs In
The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, weighs in on the matter by sharing that the state is the first in the nation to punish sex buyers with felonies, which many see as a means for stemming the sex-for-pay market, which dovetails with human trafficking. While these are important matters, a single charge of solicitation can lead to exceptionally harsh penalties, and such charges are sometimes levied against innocuous comments and actions that are misconstrued by law enforcement.