Engaging in Organized Crime in Texas
An officer has placed you under arrest. You have gone in front of a magistrate or judge who has informed you of the alleged criminal accusations and bail has been set. You have been charged with engaging in organized crime, but should you have been?
What is Engaging in Organized Crime in Texas?
Question #1: Are at least three people involved?
Under Texas Penal Code Section 71.02 Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity means:
(a) a person commits an offense if, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a a person commits an offense if, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a person commits an offense if, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination or as a member of a criminal street gang, the person commits or conspires to commit one or more of the following (scroll down for a list of qualifying Texas crimes).
Section 71.01 of the Texas Penal Code defines “combination” as three or more persons who collaborate in carrying on criminal activities, although: (1) participants may not know each other’s identity; (2) membership in the combination may change from time to time; and (3) participants may stand in wholesaler-retailer or other arm’s length relationship in illicit distribution operations.
“Criminal street gang” means three or more persons having a common identifying sign or symbol (i.e. tattoo) or an identifiable leadership who continuously or regularly associates in the commission of criminal activities.
Question #2: Is there sufficient proof of an ongoing course of criminal activity?
If three or more persons were involved, the next important question to ask is whether there is sufficient evidence to prove at least three people “collaborated in carrying on criminal activities”. Texas law requires more than just a single incident or multiple crimes arising out of the same criminal episode to prosecute a person for engaging in organized crime. Thus, citizens accused of organized criminal activity often find they have been over-charged. Because the penalty ranges are greater, officers often see three (or more) people together and charge them with engaging. The greater the charge, the higher the bond. Further, Texas forfeiture laws allow officers to seize contraband they believe is connected to the commission of the felony (e.g. money, vehicles, etc.).money, vehicles, etc.).
Question #3: Does the criminal activity fall under Texas Penal Code 71.02, Engaging in Criminal Activity?
The list of crimes in Texas Penal Code 71.02, includes:
murder, capital murder, arson, aggravated, robbery, burglary, theft, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, continuous sexual abuse of young child or children, solicitation of a minor, forgery, deadly conduct, assault (punishable as a Class A misdemeanor), burglary of a motor vehicle, or unauthorized use of a motor vehicle;
(2) any gambling offense punishable as a Class A misdemeanor;
(3) promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, or compelling prostitution;
(4) unlawful manufacture, transportation, repair, or sale of firearms or prohibited weapons;
(5) unlawful manufacture, delivery, dispensation, or distribution of a controlled substance or dangerous drug, or unlawful possession of a controlled substance or dangerous drug through forgery, fraud, misrepresentation, or deception;
(5-a) the unlawful delivery, dispensation, or distribution of a controlled substance or dangerous drug in violation of Subtitle B, Title 3, Occupations Code;
(6) any unlawful wholesale promotion or possession of any obscene material or obscene device with the intent to wholesale promote the same;
(7) any offense under Subchapter B, Chapter 43, depicting or involving conduct by or directed toward a child younger than 18 years of age;
(8 – 17) any felony offense under Chapter 32 (fraud), 36 (bribery), 34 (money laundering), 35 (insurance fraud), 35A (Medicaid fraud), 37.11(a) (impersonating a public servant), 20A (human trafficking), 37.10 (tampering with a governmental record), 38.06 (escape), 38.07 (facilitating escape), 38.09 (implementing escape), 38.11 (prohibited substance in jail or prison), 42.10 (dog fighting), 46.06(a)(1) (unlawful transfer of weapons), 46.14 (firearm smuggling), 20.05 (smuggling persons), 20.06 (continuous smuggling of persons); or Medicaid fraud), 37.11(a) (impersonating a public servant), 20A (human trafficking), 37.10 (tampering with a governmental record), 38.06 (escape), 38.07 (facilitating escape), 38.09 (implementing escape), 38.11 (prohibited substance in jail or prison), 42.10 (dog fighting), 46.06(a)(1) (unlawful transfer of weapons), 46.14 (firearm smuggling), 20.05 (smuggling persons), 20.06 (continuous smuggling of persons); or
(18) any offense classified as a felony under the Tax Code.
Punishment ranges vary depending on the severity of the underlying offense and can be punished anywhere from a state jail felony all the way up to a capital offense.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for or is being investigated for an offense associated with organized criminal activity contact our attorneys to learn why the Adamo and Adamo Law Firm is recognized across the country as an elite criminal defense team.