In Texas, the crime of engaging in organized criminal activity is a very broad statute, which covers a wide variety of conduct. You might think you’d need to be in the mafia to be charged with this offense, or have some sort of gang affiliation. However, nothing could be further from the truth.
To be charged with engaging in organized crime, all that’s required is that you participate, with others, in a particular crime. The list of crimes that can give rise to this charge are listed in the statute, referenced below. For example, if it’s alleged that you and two of your friends burglarize a house, all three of you can be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity. As to its seriousness, the offense of engaging in organized crime is charged as one level of offense higher than the underlying offense. In other words, since burglary (the underlying offense) is a second degree felony, engaging in organized criminal activity with respect to a burglary would be a first degree felony. Accordingly, if the underlying offense is Class A misdemeanor assault, you and your co-defendants could be charged with engaging in organized crime, which, in this instance, would be charged as a state jail felony (i.e., one level of offense higher than a Class A misdemeanor).
Also, you can be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, even if you don’t commit the underlying crime! For example, if it’s alleged that you and two friends conspired to burglarize a house, you can be charged, even if you never carried out the burglary. Under these facts, the crime of engaging in organized criminal activity is charged as the same level of offense of the underlying crime. Thus, you could be charged with a second degree felony version of engaging in organized crime… for the burglary you merely planned! In Texas, second degree felonies are punishable by 2 to 20 years in state prison, and up to a $10,000 fine.
If you’ve been arrested or charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, you need serious legal help. You should contact the experienced criminal defense lawyers at Berlof & Newton, P.C. Our attorneys have vast experience in Texas criminal courts, and will zealously represent your interests. Call today at 214.827.2800, or contact one of our lawyers directly using the “Get Legal Help Now!” form in the left margin of this web page. Se habla español.
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Texas Penal Code Section 71.02. ENGAGING IN ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.
(a) 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:
(1) murder, capital murder, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, burglary, theft, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, 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) causing 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) any felony offense under Chapter 32;
(9) any offense under Chapter 36;
(10) any offense under Chapter 34, 35, or 35A;
(11) any offense under Section 37.11(a);
(12) any offense under Chapter 20A;
(13) any offense under Section 37.10;
(14) any offense under Section 38.06, 38.07, 38.09, or 38.11;
(15) any offense under Section 42.10;
(16) any offense under Section 46.06(a)(1) or 46.14; or
Text of subdivision as added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 223, Sec. 3, eff. September 1, 2011
(17) any offense under Section 20.05.
Text of subdivision as added by Acts 2011, 82nd Leg., R.S., Ch. 68, Sec. 8, eff. September 1, 2011
(17) any offense classified as a felony under the Tax Code.
(b) Except as provided in Subsections (c) and (d), an offense under this section is one category higher than the most serious offense listed in Subsection (a) that was committed, and if the most serious offense is a Class A misdemeanor, the offense is a state jail felony, except that if the most serious offense is a felony of the first degree, the offense is a felony of the first degree.
(c) Conspiring to commit an offense under this section is of the same degree as the most serious offense listed in Subsection (a) that the person conspired to commit.
(d) At the punishment stage of a trial, the defendant may raise the issue as to whether in voluntary and complete renunciation of the offense he withdrew from the combination before commission of an offense listed in Subsection (a) and made substantial effort to prevent the commission of the offense. If the defendant proves the issue in the affirmative by a preponderance of the evidence the offense is the same category of offense as the most serious offense listed in Subsection (a) that is committed, unless the defendant is convicted of conspiring to commit the offense, in which event the offense is one category lower than the most serious offense that the defendant conspired to commit.
Added by Acts 1977, 65th Leg., p. 922, ch. 346, Sec. 1, eff. June 10, 1977. Amended by Acts 1981, 67th Leg., p. 2373, ch. 587, Sec. 1 to 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1981; Acts 1989, 71st Leg., ch. 782, Sec. 2, eff. Sept. 1, 1989; Acts 1991, 72nd Leg., ch. 555, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1991; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 761, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 1993; Acts 1993, 73rd Leg., ch. 900, Sec. 1.01, eff. Sept. 1, 1994; Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 318, Sec. 24, eff. Sept. 1, 1995; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 189, Sec. 9, eff. May 21, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 685, Sec. 8, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2003, 78th Leg., ch. 641, Sec. 3, eff. Sept. 1, 2003.