New Anti-Smuggling Law Enhances Penalties For Human Trafficking
Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a new anti-smuggling law last month that increases the penalty for human smuggling. It also removes the need for prosecutors prove that a smuggler received payment for the smuggling. He explains that Senate Bill 576 will expand the tools that will “help us crackdown on human smuggling and keep our communities safe.”
Governor Abbott signed the bill on September 22 at a ceremony in McAllen, a border town that serves as a major port of entry. State Representative JM Lozano, a Republican from Portland who sponsored the bill, joined the governor during the signing ceremony.
Senate Bill 576
According to the new law, human smuggling is defined as:
- Using a vehicle such as a car or boat to transport a person into the country illegally AND
- Using that vehicle to hide the smuggled person from state or federal authorities
Additionally, the law also defines human smuggling as assisting, guiding, or directing two or more people through private land without the owner’s consent. And, lastly, the law defines human smuggling as encouraging or forcing a person to stay in the country illegally by hiding them from the authorities.
The new law makes human smuggling a felonious act, but the degree varies depending on if and how the smuggled person is hurt. At a minimum, human smuggling is a third-degree felony, which carries a two- to 10-year prison sentence along with a $10,000 fine.
The crime gets bumped up to a second-degree felony if the smuggled individual is put circumstance in which he or she could be killed or suffer great bodily harm, if the smuggled person is a child, or if the smuggler is carrying a firearm. A second-degree felony conviction carries a two- to 20-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine.
And human smuggling becomes a first-degree felony if the smuggled person is killed or suffers sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, or great bodily harm. In Texas, a felony of the first degree carries a prison sentence of five years to life in prison.
Contact A San Antonio Human Smuggling Defense Attorney
Human smuggling is considered an egregious crime. If you have been arrested for human smuggling, contact a seasoned Texas human smuggling lawyer. Sam H. Lock has been practicing law for nearly 20 years. He has the skills needed to build a robust defense against human smuggling charges. Call 210-226-0965 for a free consultation.