If you’ve been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity in Texas, you may be wondering what exactly that means. In this blog post, we’ll give you a brief overview of what organized crime is and how it’s defined in Texas.
We’ll also discuss the penalties you may be facing if you’re convicted, as well as some possible defenses to the charges. Let’s begin!
Organized Crime Defined
The first thought that usually pops into the head of people when they hear the term “organized crime” is of The Godfather. The Mario Puzo novel and Francis Ford Coppola film shone the biggest spotlight on the mafia since the days of Al Capone, and both remain national treasures.
While the story is largely about family, the organized crime element is hard to miss. So, just what is organized crime?
It’s a broad term that encompasses a wide range of illegal activities. Generally speaking, organized crime refers to any group of people who work together to engage in criminal activity for financial gain.
This can include crimes like drug trafficking, gambling, money laundering, extortion, and prostitution. In Texas, the law defines organized criminal activity as “any combination or conspiracy to commit two or more offenses.”
How Texas Views Organized Crime
Texas takes a very tough stance on organized crime, and prosecutors will usually seek the harshest possible penalties against those accused of engaging in it. If you’ve been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity, you could be facing significant fines (six figures or more) and up to life in prison.
The severity of the crimes will play the biggest part in determining a judgment. Close behind it is the quantity. Once prosecutors are confident enough to make one charge stick, it’s easy to connect others to the commission of the crime they’re charging you with.
Fortunately, there are defenses available to those facing charges of engaging in organized criminal activity. One common defense is that the defendant was not actually aware that the group he or she was involved with was engaged in criminal activity. Another is that the defendant withdrew from the group before any crimes were actually committed.
Hiring an Organized Crime Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with engaging in organized criminal activity in Texas, it’s important to find an experienced criminal defense attorney who can help you navigate the legal system and protect your rights. But with so many attorneys to choose from, how do you know which one is right for you? Here are some questions to ask.
How much experience do you have defending against organized crime charges?
Make sure you hire an attorney with extensive experience fighting organized crime charges. This is not the time to hire a general practitioner; you need someone who knows the ins and outs of this specific type of law.
What kind of resources does your firm have?
When you’re facing organized crime charges, you’ll need all the help you can get. Make sure the attorney you hire has access to the resources necessary to put up a strong fight on your behalf. This could include access to investigators, private labs, and experts in various fields.
What is your trial success rate?
Ask an attorney about their success rate, especially in cases like this where the stakes are so high. Choose someone with a proven track record of success in the courtroom.
Who will be working on my case?
When you sit down with an attorney, they may tell you that they’ll personally be handling your case. However, in many law firms, it’s not the senior partners who do the majority of the work; it’s junior associates and paralegals. Understand who will be working on your case and what role they’ll play in preparing your defense.
What’s your strategy for my case?
Every case is different, so there is no one-size-fits-all approach to defending against organized crime charges. Make sure whomever you hire has a specific strategy tailored to your situation.
What are the odds of winning?
No attorney can guarantee a particular outcome, but they should be able to give you an idea of your chances of success given the facts of your case. Be wary of any attorney who promises a certain outcome or tries to downplay the seriousness of the charges against you.
Your Way of Life Is on the Line
Being charged with engaging in organized criminal activity is a serious matter that could result in life in prison if convicted. If you or someone you know has been arrested for allegedly participating in organized crime, it’s critical that you contact a qualified criminal defense attorney right away.
An experienced lawyer will know how to challenge the prosecution’s case and build a strong defense on your behalf. That’s especially true when the defense attorney has prior experience as a prosecutor.
John Teakell has worked on both sides of the judicial divide. He knows the work and the types of evidence that fuel a prosecutor’s case, and he knows how to push back. To set up your first visit, contact his law office today.