Honorable John Whitmire, Chair, Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
Ursula Parks, Director, Legislative Budget Board
HB8 by Thompson, Senfronia (Relating to the prosecution and punishment of offenses related to trafficking of persons and to certain protections for victims of trafficking of persons.), Committee Report 2nd House, Substituted
The bill would amend the Code of Criminal Procedure as it relates to the prosecution and punishment of offenses related to trafficking of persons and to certain protections for victims of trafficking of persons. The provisions of the bill that relate to the punishment for felony criminal offenses are the subject of this analysis. Under the provisions of the bill, compelling prostitution and trafficking of persons would be added to the list of offenses not eligible for community supervision cases decided by juries and not eligible for release to parole supervision; the penalty for solicitation of a minor for sex offenses would be enhanced; previous convictions for solicitation of a minor could be used for enhancements under one but not multiple sections of the Penal Code with deferred adjudications considered as previous convictions; the penalty for aggravated promotion of prostitution offenses would span the misdemeanor and felony level with the punishment contingent on the number of previous convictions and the specific nature of the offense; the penalty for obscenity offenses involving a minor would be enhanced to a second degree felony; and continuous sexual abuse of young children and solicitation of a minor would be added to the list of engaging in organized criminal activity offenses.
A state jail felony is punishable by confinement in a state jail for a term from 180 days to 2 years and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $10,000 or Class A Misdemeanor punishment (mandatory post conviction community supervision). A felony of the third degree is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 10 years and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $10,000. A felony of the second degree is punishable by confinement in prison for a term from 2 to 20 years and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $10,000. A felony of the first degree is punishable by confinement in prison for life or a term from 5 to 99 years and, in addition to confinement, an optional fine not to exceed $10,000.
Expanding the list of behaviors for which a penalty is applied or enhancing the punishment for any criminal offense is expected to result in increased demands upon the correctional resources of counties or of the state due to longer terms of probation, or longer terms of confinement in county jail, state jail, or prison. In fiscal year 2012, 179 people were arrested, less than 30 people were placed on community supervision, and less than 10 were incarcerated in state jail or prison for the human trafficking-related offenses covered under the provisions of the bill. In the case of the bill, it is assumed the number of offenders convicted under this statute would not result in a significant impact on the programs and workload of state corrections agencies or on the demand for resources and services of those agencies.