R. Todd Bennett, P.C.
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New regulations for sexually oriented businesses

State and federal law enforcement agencies recently targeted illegal activities at massage parlors in Harris County. Following raids on the establishments, the district attorney's office opened a criminal case against each of the businesses where criminal activity was found to exist.

The raids were prompted by new county regulations that require massage parlors to be licensed and submit to an inspection by the fire marshal. The recent raids resulted in citations for 48 violations of the fire code. A spokesperson for the sheriff's office said the new county regulations opens the door to joint efforts by various county departments to attack crime in businesses that are sexually oriented.

Participating in the raids were sheriff's deputies, fire marshals, constables and agents from the U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement. The Harris County District Attorney's Office is prosecuting each criminal charge filed in connection with the raids. which were known as "Operation Red Light."

Under the new county regulations, owners of business that are sexually oriented will have to submit to a criminal background check as a condition of licensing of the business. The purpose of the background checks and other provisions of the new regulations is to control the proliferation of such establishments in Harris County.

A person with a criminal record could contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney, who may be able to help by obtaining a court order resulting in expungement of the record. A criminal record, particularly one that includes a conviction for a felony charge, can prevent a person from obtaining employment or licenses to engage in certain types of business. The criminal defense attorney might find that the person's particular charge is subject to expungement under state law.

Source: CBS Houston, "'Operation Red Light' nets arrests in massage parlor raids," Cicely Mitchell, Feb. 21, 2013

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