Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity

Getting engaged in organized criminal activity is a unique kind of criminal charge. What distinguishes it is that society does not consider it a crime on its own. Instead, it makes other charges more serious. It sort of rides along with other crimes, making their penalties harsher.

If it’s mentioned in a criminal case, the possible punishment becomes higher. And Texas is known for being strict about crime, but it also values a fair legal process.

If you or someone you know is facing criminal charges, it’s important to know how the legal system works in Texas.

Texas Statute Simplified

Engaging in organized crime in Texas is talked about in the law, specifically in Texas Penal Code Section 71.02. Here’s what it says:

(a) A person engages in wrongdoing if they aim to form, sustain, or be part of a group to make illegal profits or join a criminal street gang. This involves committing or planning to commit specific crimes.

(1) murder, capital murder, arson, aggravated robbery, burglary, theft, aggravated kidnapping, kidnapping, aggravated assault, aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault, continuous sexual abuse of a young child or children, solicitation of a minor, forgery, deadly conduct, assault, retaliation, terroristic threat, or weapons violation.

This Texas law points out certain crimes that get more serious when done by a group. If people work together to do something illegal, like stealing or hurting someone, they could be charged with organized crime. The severity of the charges they’re facing depends on the most serious thing they did together.

Organized Crime: Explain

In Texas, organized crime means people working together to do illegal things and make money from them.

In simpler terms, organized crime in Texas refers to a group of people working together to commit various criminal acts. These acts could include, but are not limited to, gambling, theft, drug offenses, and other illegal activities. The law aims to address not just individual criminal acts but also the collaborative efforts of groups or gangs involved in criminal enterprises.

Engaging in Organized Crime Activity Elements

To be charged with engaging in organized criminal activity in Texas, several elements must be present. These elements are outlined in the relevant statute, Texas Penal Code Section 71.02. Here are the key components, simplified:


  • A person must have the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination, share in its profits, or be a member of a criminal street gang.

Actions or Conspire to Commit:

  • The individual must commit or conspire to commit one or more specific crimes listed in the statute. These crimes include murder, robbery, burglary, theft, kidnapping, assault, sexual offenses, and others. Additionally, the severity of the offense is determined by the most serious crime committed within the collaboration.


  • The term “combination” refers to three or more persons collaborating in carrying out criminal activities. Furthermore, the participants may not necessarily know each other, and their membership in the combination may change over time.


  • The term “profits” involves property obtained directly or indirectly from the proceeds of the specified criminal activities. Additionally, “property” includes real and personal property, tangible and intangible property, and gifts, tangible and intangible, or purported to be gifts.

Criminal Street Gang

  • A criminal street gang is a group of three or more people who often team up to commit crimes. Moreover, they have a shared sign or signal that identifies them, and there’s a clear leader in the group.

The severity of the offense:

  • The seriousness of the organized crime charge is based on the worst crime committed during the collaboration. The punishment is one category higher than the most serious offense committed.

Penalties for Engaging Organized Crime in Texas

Engaging in organized criminal activity is punished more severely based on the most serious charge involved. In other words, if the primary crime committed is a Class A misdemeanor, the total crime is elevated to a state jail felony.

If the most serious crime is aggravated sexual assault and if the defendant is 18 years of age or older while the victim is under six, it becomes a first-degree felony. This means it could lead to a life sentence without parole in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If the victim is younger than 14 years and the accused commits aggravated sexual assault, or if the victim is younger than 17 years old and suffered serious bodily injury, the offense is aggravated. It could also be seen as a first-degree felony.

Defense if Accused of Engaging Organized Crime Activity

It’s really important to know that how well a defense plan works depends on what actually happened. Here are a couple of ways people often defend themselves:

No Pattern of Smaller Crimes:

  • This means showing that the person accused has no history of committing lesser crimes, which would suggest they don’t commit a serious offense. In simpler words, they didn’t have a history of doing similar, smaller bad things.

No Criminal Group Running Things:

  • This is about proving that there wasn’t a big criminal group telling the person to do the crime. In other words, you either didn’t do the crime at all or you didn’t do it with a group led by a gang leader.

Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call me!

Tackling criminal charges, especially engaging in organized criminal activity in Texas, demands a deep understanding of the legal system. The Texas Penal Code’s Section 71.02 emphasizes the seriousness of these charges and the potential for severe consequences.

Given the complexity and potential consequences, securing legal representation is crucial. Additionally, a criminal defense attorney provides essential expertise in navigating the legal landscape, protecting rights, and building a strong defense. Furthermore, from challenging evidence to negotiating plea deals, their role is pivotal in achieving a fair outcome.