Texas Penal Code 20.06 – Continuous Smuggling of Persons
WHAT IS CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
A person who engages in human smuggling at least twice over a period of ten days or more may be charged with the higher offense of continuous human smuggling.
WHAT IS THE CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS LAW IN TEXAS?
Tex. Penal Code § 20.06. CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS.
(a) A person commits an offense if, during a period that is 10 or more days in duration, the person engages two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05.
(b) If a jury is the trier of fact, members of the jury are not required to agree unanimously on which specific conduct engaged in by the defendant constituted an offense under Section 20.05 or on which exact date the defendant engaged in that conduct. The jury must agree unanimously that the defendant, during a period that is 10 or more days in duration, engaged two or more times in conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05.
(c) If the victim of an offense under Subsection (a) is the same victim as a victim of an offense under Section 20.05, a defendant may not be convicted of the offense under Section 20.05 in the same criminal action as the offense under Subsection (a), unless the offense under Section 20.05:
(1) is charged in the alternative;
(2) occurred outside the period in which the offense alleged under Subsection (a) was committed; or
(3) is considered by the trier of fact to be a lesser included offense of the offense alleged under Subsection (a).
(d) A defendant may not be charged with more than one count under Subsection (a) if all of the conduct that constitutes an offense under Section 20.05 is alleged to have been committed against the same victim.
(e) Except as provided by Subsections (f) and (g), an offense under this section is a felony of the second degree.
(f) An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree if:
(1) the conduct constituting an offense under Section 20.05 is conducted in a manner that creates a substantial likelihood that the smuggled individual will suffer serious bodily injury or death; or
(2) the smuggled individual is a child younger than 18 years of age at the time of the offense.
(g) An offense under this section is a felony of the first degree, punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life or for any term of not more than 99 years or less than 25 years, if:
(1) it is shown on the trial of the offense that, as a direct result of the commission of the offense, the smuggled individual became a victim of sexual assault, or aggravated sexual assault; or
(2) the smuggled individual suffered serious bodily injury or death.
WHAT IS THE PENALTY CLASS FOR CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
Continuous smuggling of persons is a second degree felony, punishable by two to ten years in prison. It becomes a first degree felony, punishable by five to 99 years or life, if the smuggled individual is younger than 18, or the smuggled individual was substantially likely to suffer serious bodily injury or death. If the smuggled individual dies, suffers serious bodily injury, or becomes a victim of sexual assault, the offense is punishable by 25 to 99 years or life in prison.
WHAT IS THE PUNISHMENT RANGE FOR CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
A person charged with second degree felony continuous smuggling of persons faces between two and 20 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000. First degree felony continuous human smuggling carries five to 99 years or life in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000. The punishment range for first degree felony continuous human smuggling becomes 25 to 99 years or life if the smuggled individual dies, suffers serious bodily injury, or is sexually assaulted.
WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
If a person is convicted of first degree felony continuous human smuggling with a minimum imprisonment of 25 years, the person is not eligible for probation or deferred adjudication. If convicted of continuous human smuggling punishable as a second degree or first degree felony, the person may be placed on probation for a maximum period of ten years. The minimum term of probation corresponds to the minimum prison sentence: two years for a second degree felony, or five years for a first degree felony. To avoid a conviction, a person may plead guilty or nolo contendere (“no contest”) before a judge, who may place the person on deferred adjudication for no more than ten years.
WHAT ARE THE DEFENSES TO CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
A person accused of continuous smuggling of persons may raise justification defenses, and may attempt to raise the affirmative defense available during a human smuggling trial that the accused and smuggled individual are relatives.
WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS?
The limitation period for continuous smuggling of persons, a first degree felony, is three years.
CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS IN TEXAS
The law against continuous smuggling of persons punishes a person for committing smuggling of persons at least twice over a period of ten days or more.
CONTINUOUS SMUGGLING OF PERSONS COURT CASES
The case law regarding continuous smuggling of persons in Texas has upheld the constitutionality of the provision in the smuggling of persons statute specific to illegal immigrants, which also applies to the continuous human smuggling law.
- In Cruz v. Abbott, a group of landlords and other providers of shelters for illegal aliens sued Texas Governor Abbott seeking to enjoin enforcement of the human smuggling law, claiming it violated the Supremacy, Equal Protection, and Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution. The Fifth Circuit dismissed proceedings, holding the plaintiffs were not at risk of prosecution, because the law requires proof that the person knowingly hid another from authorities. Merely providing shelter or housing to illegal immigrants, without an intent to deceive, does not violate the statute. Cruz v. Abbott, 849 F.3d 594 (5th Cir. 2017).
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DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15
Driving facts involved failing to maintain a single lane and speeding. Client refused breath test and forced law enforcement to obtain search warrant for blood. Blood test result was not used after challenge from Defense, and State waived and abandoned charge.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client was a college student, worried about the collateral consequences of an alcohol offense. After negotiation and review of the traffic stop, the case was dismissed. Client received no criminal conviction. The charge was later expunged and deleted from client’s record.
DRIVING WHILE INTOXICATED .15+
Client was involved in minor accident. Client was at fault in accident. A young executive, client was concerned that a criminal conviction for DWI would result in termination. After review of the traffic stop, it was clear the officer lacked probable cause for arrest. State eventually dismissed DWI charge. Client received no criminal conviction.
Client, a military veteran, was facing up to one year in jail. State could not prove intoxication by alcohol, and was prepared to proceed on loss of use by marijuana. After challenging the State to prove that marijuana was ingested at or near time of driving, and that marijuana impaired client’s driving, the State dismissed the case on the day of trial.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Driving facts involved a false claim by police that taillight was out. After challenging the reasonable suspicion for the traffic stop, the State was forced to dismiss the case when video did not match police report. Client has since expunged arrest, and has no criminal record.
DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Client is a public school teacher and faced immediate termination upon conviction. The facts of the case were bad. State was unwilling to budge in negotiation, and matter was set for trial – the last shot at avoiding a conviction and preserving client’s livelihood. State was forced to dismiss on day of trial. Client has no criminal record, and has since expunged the DWI arrest.
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