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Engaging in organized criminal activity is the charge that is utilized when a group works together to commit a criminal offense. For instance, if several people conspire to steal something or sell drugs, it could be considered organized criminal activity.
Engaging in organized crime, as the offense is commonly called, is a more serious criminal charge than the charge that would have been called for if the criminal offense been committed by one person rather than a group. These charges should be taken seriously, and you should start building a defense immediately.
Charges for organized criminal activity can carry steep penalties, often more harsh than if the crime only was committed by one person. A strong defense is critical in defending yourself against these life-altering consequences, and a San Antonio organized crime lawyer at Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley can help.
The attorneys at Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley are nationally recognized for their skill and dedicated in criminal defense. They have represented clients facing a variety of criminal charges throughout the nation, and they will use their experiences to help you get the best possible results in your case.
Our attorneys are dedicated to fighting for clients, and they will handle your case with the utmost importance. They understand your situation, and they can work to make a difference. Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley represents clients on these serious charges throughout San Antonio and the surrounding areas in Texas. Call 210-226-1463 for a free consultation about your unique case.
The criminal charge of engaging in organized criminal activity requires proof beyond all reasonable doubt that a person acted with the intent to establish, maintain or participate in a combination, to commit or conspire to commit one or more of the enumerated offenses.
The term “conspires to commit” means under Texas law that a person agrees with one or more other people that one or more of them will engage in conduct that would constitute the offense and one or more of them perform an overt act in pursuance of the agreement.
Some of the possible offenses include:
If an offense is listed as an enumerated offense under Texas Penal Code § 71.02 and three or more people either committed the crime or where involved in it in some way, then prosecutors could charge all allegedly involved parties with engaging in organized criminal activity (often called "EOCA"). If a member of an organization you belong to, including a motorcycle club, is accused of one of these offenses, you may be charged with EOCA.
In addition, if a criminal street gang was involved with a crime, it also could be considered organized criminal activity. Texas law defines a criminal street gang as three or more people who share a common identifying sign or symbol or an identifiable leadership while regularly participating in crime.
An agreement constituting “conspiring to commit” may be inferred from the acts of the parties. To prove participation in the agreement, the State must prove the defendant had an intent to participate in a criminal combination and that the defendant performed some overt act, not necessarily criminal, in furtherance of the agreement. See Nwosoucha v. State, 325 S.W.3d 816, 831 (Tex.App.-Houston [14th Dist.] 2010, pet. ref'd).
Section 71.01(a) defines a “combination” as three or more persons who collaborate in carrying on criminal activities. The courts in Texas have construed this language as requiring a “continuing course of criminal activities.” See Nguyen v. State, 1 S.W.3d 694, 697 (Tex.Crim.App.1999). It involves more than the intent to merely commit an enumerated offense, a plan to commit a single act, or proof of working jointly to commit a crime. Id. In other words, it requires proof of continuity. Id. at 696–97.
The activities do not each have to be criminal offenses to satisfy the statutory requirement. Id. at 697. Instead, a single criminal offense can be sufficient. Id. However, the statute requires proof of intended continuity over time. Id.
A charge of organized criminal activity under this statute is punishable as one category higher than the most serious underlying charge. For example, if the most serious offense is a Class A misdemeanor, then the offense is a state jail felony.
However, an offense is a felony of the first degree punishable by imprisonment in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for life without parole if the most serious offense is an aggravated sexual assault and if at the time of that offense the defendant is 18 years of age or older and the victim is younger than six years of age.
If the victim is younger than 14 years old and the actor commits aggravated sexual assault or if the victim is younger than 17 years old and suffered serious bodily injury as a result of the offense it also could be considered a first-degree felony.
In many cases, during the pre-file investigation, the criminal defense attorney can work to convince the prosecutor that the evidence is not sufficient to prove that the combination of people existed, in spite of evidence of multiple people committing multiple crimes.
For example, an attorney can work to prove there was not organized criminal activity if multiple people were not involved. This would mean the charges could be reduced. Retaining a criminal defense attorney early in the investigation is critical to your defense.
Texas Penal Code - This link explains the Texas law concerning organized crime, including what offenses could be classified as organized crime. It also outlines the penalties for the correlating offenses.
San Antonio Police Department - This link is the San Antonio Police Department which cracks down on organized criminal activity in the city.
Department of Justice Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces- The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to mount a comprehensive attack against organized drug traffickers. This link explains what the program does and its fight on organized drug crime.
If you have been charged with EOCA, an experienced a criminal defense attorney at Goldstein, Goldstein & Hilley can help you make sure your rights are represented. Our attorneys are uniquely qualified to fight these type of serious criminal offenses throughout San Antonio, Bexar County and Texas. Call 210-226-1463 today for a free consultation to discuss your charges.