Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity (EOCA) requires a "combination" of three or more people or a "street gang" planning to commit a felony. If at least one of the members of the organized crime commits or takes steps that indicate the crime would have been committed, all parties involved can be indicted.
EOCA is not a stand-alone crime. It exists to intensify the primary crime. Punishment for engaging in organized criminal activity depends on the core crime committed or conspired to be committed.
Charges and sentencing will be assessed at one criminal level above the underlying crime. In other words, if the primary crime committed or conspired to be committed was aggravated assault, which is a second degree felony, then EOCA will be charged one criminal level above that, which is a first degree felony.
Organized crime involves either something called a combination or a street gang. In Texas, a combination refers to three or more people who have plotted together to commit a crime. On occasion, the members of the combination may not know one another. Membership can also change within the group. As long as there are three members of the combination who are proved to have schemed together to commit a crime, the charge will stand.
A street gang, according to Texas Law, is a group of three or more individuals who have a group identity and/or symbol who participates in and plans criminal activities together.
A conspiracy is similar to a combination, but with notable differences. Only two people are required to commit conspiracy. Unlike EOCA, conspiracy can be a stand-alone crime. No additional crime must be committed for a defendant to be charged with conspiracy. However, a prosecutor will need to prove that at least one of the conspirators carried out an "overt act," indicating a genuine intention to commit the conspired crime.
Conspiracy and engaging in organized criminal activity are both very difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. If you've been charged with either of these crimes, contact the Biggs and Greenslade Law Firm immediately to retain an experienced defense attorney. We will investigate every detail of your case and find the best defense strategy to ensure you receive a fair trial. Call now to secure your free legal consultation.