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Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity

If you are charged with the offense of Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity, it is extremely important that you are well represented. Engaging is an enhancement of the underlying offense. In general, an engaging charge will increase your offense level by one degree. So, you first need to look at what the underlying offense alleged is in order to determine what punishment you will be facing.

Engaging takes place when an underlying, enumerated offense is committed in one of two ways: (1) as a person with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination, or (2) as a member of a criminal street gang. See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 71.02 (West 2019).

The enumerated offenses include murder, capital murder, arson, aggravated robbery, robbery, burglary, theft, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, continuous sexual abuse of a child, solicitation of a minor, forgery, deadly conduct, assault, burglary of a vehicle, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle (“UUMV”), gambling, prostitution, promotion of prostitution, aggravated promotion of prostitution, compelling prostitution, unlawful firearm distribution, unlawful manufacturing or delivery of a controlled substance or dangerous drug, possession or distribution of pornography, fraud, bribery or corruption, money laundering, insurance fraud, medicaid fraud, impersonating a public servant, trafficking of persons, tampering with a government record, escape, permitting or facilitating escape, implements for escape, prohibited substance in correctional facility, dog fighting, smuggling or continuous smuggling of persons, and unlawful use of electronic communications.

A combination is best thought of as a conspiracy. A “combination” must include three or more people. See Tex. Pen. Code Ann. § 71.01 (West 2019). Also, a combination cannot occur with just a single criminal act, it requires a “continuing course of criminal activities.” See Nguyen v. State, 1 S.W.3d 694, 697 (Tex. Crim. App. 2009). 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—it requires proof of continuity. See Hart v. State, 89 S.W.3d 61, 63-64 (Tex. Crim. App. 2002). As briefly described, the complexity of the definition of “combination” requires an experienced attorney who can destroy the existence of a combination in the first place.

Severe Punishment for a Plea to Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity

Again, the engaging charge is an enhancement, which will generally increase the degree of punishment by one degree. Many criminal defense attorneys do not know this, but engaging in organized criminal activity is an aggravated or “3(g)” offense. It’s technically not a “3(g)” offense, meaning the offense does not come from Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 42.12 § 3(g), putting aside that old section 3(g) has been reorganized into Texas Code of Criminal Procedure article 42A.054.

The Texas Government Code section 508.145 provides that an aggravated or 3(g) offense means that an offender has to do one-half of his time before becoming eligible for parole. See Tex. Gov. Code Ann. § 508.145 (West 2017). Also, included in such section, is the fact that a plea to an Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity Enhancement also requires an offender to do one-half of his time before being eligible for parole.

If you are going to plea to an engaging in organized criminal activity offense, it is extremely important that your defense attorney gets rid of this enhancement on your behalf. Even if you plea to probation, or community supervision, your defense attorney must get rid of this enhancement on your behalf. You never know if you will successfully complete probation and have a motion to adjudicate your probation or motion to revoke your probation filed against you. Then, if the Judge assessed prison time, you would have to do one-half of your time, based on this enhancement.

If you are charged with this offense, contact our office, so we can best represent you!

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