Organized Criminal Activity

Are your friends considering committing criminal offenses or planning to break the law and want your help? Then you need find some new friends because you could be charged with organized criminal activity in Texas.

What’s the law on organized criminal activity in Texas?

Texas Penal Code 71.02. ENGAGING IN ORGANIZED CRIMINAL ACTIVITY.

  1. 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:

See the part where is says “the following “, it goes on to list most of the crimes you can commit in Texas, gambling, theft, drugs, etc. are all covered under this statute. So almost any crime that can be committed by two people is covered.

What’s the punishment for organized criminal activity in Texas?

Usually, it’s one degree higher than the offense you were planning to commit. Here’s an example, you and a buddy conspire to ship 10 pounds of really good weed from Austin to Dallas and you get caught in Waco. Well, 10 pounds of weed is a 3rd degree felony, and the organized criminal activity charge would then be a 2nd degree felony. See how that works?

There are some exceptions, for example if you are conspiring to commit sexual assault against a child you can be facing life without parole.

Example of an Organized Criminal Activity Case

Let’s look at a recent appeal out of Dallas.

No. 05.12.01179-CR DERICK DEWAYNE EVANS VS THE STATE OF TEXAS

Derick Evans was convicted of organized criminal activity for allegedly helping conduct an illegal raffle. Derrick appealed his conviction and alleged that there wasn’t enough evidence to support a conviction. Why? Because Derrick said he was raising money for a political campaign, and his intent was not to run an illegal gambling promotion.

The court found that Derrick handed out raffle ticket for his employees to sell, and that he helped coordinate the raffle. The State argued that they didn’t have to prove motive or intent to break the law. The court of appeals held that there was enough evidence to show intent, without ruling on whether intent to break the law was an element of an organized criminal activity charge.

What Must the State Show to Prove Participation in an Organized Criminal Activity?

Derick Evans next argued that the State failed to prove that Mr. Evans worked with three or more people for the purpose to promote the illegal lottery. In this case, Mr. Evans had various other officers hand out and sell raffle tickets solely to raise money for Mr. Evans’ political campaign. After these various officers sold the tickets, Mr. Evans drew names from a bag and gave the named prizes to the ticket holders. Under Texas Penal Code 71.02, the fact that Mr. Evans worked with several officers in the raffle ticket scheme is sufficient to show the State had evidence of the organized criminal activity.

The next three issues that Mr. Evans appeals all correspond to the sufficiency of the evidence presented by the State. He claims, among other things, that several other police officers used a similar raffle ticket scheme and that any crime he committed was due to an ignorance of the law, otherwise known as mistake of law. The State dismissed all of Mr. Evans’ arguments, stating that ignorance of the law and any precedent set by other police officers does not excuse Mr. Evans’ actions.

Finally, Mr. Evans argues that his suspension from his office, was unwarranted and that the trial court erred in their judgment. The State argues that the Texas Constitution states that all “persons who have been convicted of bribery, perjury, forgery, or other high crimes” shall be removed from public office. The court interpreted the term “high crimes” as including a felony conviction for engaging in organized criminal activity.

If you are accused of participating in organized criminal activity, call Guest and Gray Law Firm’s defense team today. Guest and Gray Law Firm is a full service civil and criminal defense law firm serving the entire DFW Metroplex including Dallas, Kaufman, Rockwall and surrounding counties. Our main office is in Forney, Texas where we have served the community since 1967. We also have office locations in Rockwall and Kaufman, Texas. Our team of lawyers is ready to help with any concern you might have involving organized criminal activity.

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