Legal Guide For Defendants Accused of Engaging in Organized Crime
Gangs and Organized Crime
Please note that any gangs or organized crime groups mentioned in this guide are used for strictly informational purposes, and are not necessarily an indication that the Law Office of John R. Teakell has represented them. Also, none of the information in this legal guide is a substitute for legal advice. Please call (214) 523-9076 for legal consultation if you have been charged with a crime.
Running in a gang or engaging in other forms of organized crime is risky business. As a member of one of 100+ documented street gangs in Dallas, the government can prosecute you for crimes as small as intent to participate, and the punishment will be set one level higher than that of the highest offense.
Texas Organized Crime Statute– Important Terms
Organized criminal activity includes any action, whether systematic or structured, that is used to generate illegal income, according to Federal and state law. The courts may determine that an individual is engaging in organized criminal activity if they conspire or commit crimes like murder, arson, aggravated robbery, deadly conduct, kidnapping, or a host of other crimes.
Below, we’ll fill you in on some terms commonly used within the justice system to define and prosecute organized crimes before we move on to the information that’s relevant to your case.
This is a group of three or more people who collaborate to commit a crime. The members may swap out, they may not know each other’s identities, and the participants may operate within a wholesaler-retailer relationship, remaining relatively distant to maintain an illicit distribution operation. A “combination” is frequently seen in drug trafficking and distribution.
Conspire to Commit
If you plan on engaging in organized crime with a group or another person, and you and your partner(s) take action to follow through on the initial plan, you can be charged with conspiring to commit a crime. Conspiring to commit is largely an action-based accusation, and the courts will confirm its accuracy based on the actions of all involved parties.
This includes any property or financial gain obtained through the completion of an illegal offense listed in 71.02 of the Texas Penal Code. This property is considered “profits” whether you came by it directly or indirectly.
Criminal Street Gang
If three or more people who regularly work together to commit crimes have a common identifying sign or signal, and a clearly identified leader– the group is categorized as a “criminal street gang.”
What Are Gangs and Organized Crime?
Organized crime can include local, national, or global groups that operate together to engage in illegal activities, generally for profit. However, some modern gangs that have gravitated to profit-driven crimes started, and sometimes are still driven, by the desire to protect their community, or at the very least the other members of their gang.
For example, the Community Resources for Independent People, also known as The Crips, followed the teachings of the Black Panthers. The founders started the organization to serve and protect their community. A few years later, the gang Brotherly Love Overcomes Overrides and Destruction, The Bloods, also arose out of the need for enhanced community protection.
Of course, there are other types of gangs including prison gangs, motorcycle clubs, ethnic-based gangs, and the street gangs we’ve already discussed. Most, if not all, have been linked to organized crimes for financial, violent, or revenge-centric crimes.
The Texas Penal Code notes that the following crimes can be tried as organized criminal activity:
- Murder and capital murder
- Aggravated robbery
- Arson (Malicious burning for destroying property or evidence)
- Sexual assault
- Illegal sale of firearms
- Illegal manufacture of dangerous drugs
- Illegal delivery of drugs
- Promoting prostitution
- Solicitation of a minor
- Unauthorized use of a motor vehicle
- Other Felony fraud offenses (under Chapter 32 of the State Penal Code)
The Law Office of John R. Teakell represents all defendants indiscriminately and consistently strives to get alleged criminals reduced sentences, and is frequently able to get criminal cases dismissed altogether. Even if you should choose to plead guilty to a crime, Teakell can help you fight the organized criminal activity charge, a charge that is added to a crime if the state prosecutor believes you committed the crime with two or more other people.
Organized Crime Defense
At the state level, engaging in organized criminal activity is the equivalent of a federal conspiracy charge. This is because organized crime is also reliant on a group of people agreeing to commit a crime and moving forward with criminal activity.
Organized crime is a complex area of law, and you should only work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer, preferably one that also has experience as a federal prosecutor and is adept at navigating the legal system. Organized crime syndicates and criminal street gangs are known for theft, fraud, committing violent crimes, distributing illicit substances, as well as some other crimes that help them carry out their plans. Even if the defendant cannot be charged with committing a crime, they may still be tried for conspiring to commit a crime.
The best defenses against an organized crime charge include:
- That the defendant hasn’t shown a pattern of predicate offenses. In simple terms, this means the defendant hasn’t committed any smaller crimes that indicate they would have committed a more serious crime.
- There was no criminal enterprise directing the criminal activities. In other words, you didn’t commit the alleged crime, either at all or with a group under the supervision of a gang leader.
Depending on your unique circumstance, you may also be able to use the renunciation defense. To be found not guilty, you would need to prove to the court that you weren’t an accomplice or guilty of any offense. If you alerted the police before your partners could commit the crime or show a complete renunciation of the group’s criminal objective in some other way, and withdrew from the group before the commission of the crime, you would be a good candidate for the renunciation defense.
What is the Punishment for Engaging in Organized Crime?
The punishment for organized crime varies based on the underlying offense. Generally, the punishment for organized crimes will be listed as one level higher than the most serious offense that was committed. If the most serious offense was a Class A misdemeanor, the offense will be classified as a state jail felony. Crimes like Aggravated Sexual Assault can automatically get you life in prison without parole as you would be over the age of 18, and the victim would fall within a protected class such as a child, elderly person, or disabled person.
When you reach the punishment stage of the trial for the underlying offense, you will have the opportunity to plea renunciation. If you’re successful, you will receive the highest sentence or one step below, in essence, a reduced sentence.
Stay Informed About the Dangers of Overcharging
Prosecutors oftentimes tack on additional charges that they know they cannot prove. This is labeled as ‘overcharging’. They do this to elicit a plea for the crime believe you’re guilty of, and then let you off on the charges they couldn’t prove anyways. This can be done by stacking on multiple charges or charging a single offense at an unreasonably high level.
For example, let’s say two people decided to break into a car and steal a small amount of money. They committed the crime. Later they pick up a friend with no knowledge of their crime, and all three are found in the car when law enforcement pulls them over. If the prosecutor tries to charge all three with “engaging in organized crime,” that would be overcharging. If the prosecutor was charging them fairly, the friend that was picked up later wouldn’t be charged at all and the others would be charged with a misdemeanor instead of a jail felony.
John R. Teakell– Dallas Organized Crime Lawyer
You don’t have to be a member of an infamous Dallas street gang to be charged with organized crime. In fact, you may not be in a gang at all, but you fall within the legal definition of a “combination,” committing a crime with two or more other people. Or you may be a part of an organized crime group, but have little to no information about who you were working with. You can even be charged just for conspiring to commit a crime.
All the prosecutor needs to charge you with organized crime is evidence proving without a doubt that you worked with two or more people to carry out a crime. If found guilty, the consequences for your alleged crimes would be much higher.
The Law Office of John R. Teakell stands ready to assist in your organized crime case, not only in court appearances but also in preparing evidence to rebut the prosecutor’s case, or in preparation of a trial defense.
Contact the Law Office of John R. Teakell today for legal consultation.