Charged with an organized crime in Houston?
Organized crime encompasses enterprises specifically set up for the purpose of engaging in illegal activities, such as fraud, theft, robbery, kidnapping for ransom, and the demand for “protection” payments. While there is a continued public demand for the goods and services supplied by criminal syndicates (i.e., loan sharking, gambling, prostitution, drugs, etc.) these activities are illegal on their face and come with even harsher penalties when organized criminal activities can be proven. To qualify under organized crime laws, the prosecution must show that a group of three or more people has worked together to commit one or more ongoing criminal offenses.
If you have been charged with an organized crime you are likely very worried about your future, and you may believe the organized crime charges are unwarranted. Unfortunately, overly aggressive state and federal prosecutors may sometimes abuse the laws related to organized crime. When this occurs, it is crucial that you have an equally aggressive criminal defense lawyer like Nathaniel Pitoniak to ensure your rights are protected and your future is not harmed by the intimidation tactics sometimes used by Houston law enforcement officials. Houston criminal defense attorney Nathanial Pitoniak will quickly identify any possible weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case, challenging your organized crime charges in accordance with state and national statutes.
What is Organized Crime?
The roots of America’s organized crime can be traced back to Prohibition (1920-1933) when our country saw tremendous growth in crime. When the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment put an end to bootlegging—illegally manufacturing, selling, or transporting liquor—criminal “bosses” became even more organized as they turned to other illegal activities. Although organized crime groups are often referred to as “families,” due to the hierarchical setup, the members of the group may or may not be genetically related to one another. Organized crime groups have typically sought protection from interference with their illegal activities from the police as well as the judicial system. Organized crime groups have flourished in the U.S., generally due to threats, intimidation, and bodily violence inflicted on those who threatened to inform or testify, as well as from bribery and payoffs.
What are the Different Types of Organized Crime Offenses?
Any time several people (three or more) people are working together to commit criminal acts, organized crime charges may be brought in addition to charges for the criminal acts themselves. Some of the offenses which can also garner organized crime charges include:
- Stealing and re-selling automobiles;
- Laundering money;
- Setting up and operating a drug distribution network;
- Theft of any items;
- Human trafficking;
- Sexual Assault, and
- Aggravated Assault.
What are the Penalties for Organized Crime in Harris County?
As noted, engaging in organized crime usually results in harsher penalties than one person charged with the underlying offense would face. The state of Texas is required to prove intent by the defendants existed, and that the actions of the defendants directly connect to the crime. When organized crime is charged, in the event of a conviction, the penalties will equal those of the original crime, raised by one category.
As an example, if the underlying crime would be charged as a third-degree felony, the state would charge all those they believe to have participated in the crime with a second-degree felony. Since the difference between sentencing in a third and second-degree felony in the state of Texas can be an additional ten years in prison, the distinction is very important. A defendant in the state of Texas can potentially be indicted for engaging in organized crime as well as for the crime itself.
How is Organized Crime Proven in the State of Texas?
Typically, organized crime groups are discovered via infiltration by state or government agents. That being said, it can be difficult to prove organized crime, as a shared intent to commit multiple acts of crime must be clearly shown. The prosecution must prove that a defendant, with the intent to establish, maintain, or participate in a combination or in the profits of a combination, commits or attempts to commits the underlying offense.
Are There Defenses to Charges of Organized Crime?
Although your exact defense will depend on the circumstances surrounding your charges, there are certain defenses that could be applicable in your situation. Organized crime laws can easily result in overcharging by prosecutors. In some instances, during the pre-file investigation, your criminal defense attorney may be able to convince the prosecutor that the evidence is insufficient to prove a combination of people existed—despite evidence of multiple people, committing multiple crimes. This could significantly reduce your charges, making a favorable plea deal more likely, or, should there be a conviction, making the penalties less severe. Your criminal defense attorney may also be able to contest whether the requirement of “combination,” or “criminal street gang,” has been properly met.
How the Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak Can Help with Organized Crime Charges
Since being charged with an organized crime can significantly increase the penalties associated with the underlying crime, you need a highly experienced Houston criminal defense attorney by your side. Nathaniel Pitoniak has spent over 15 years practicing criminal law; prior to becoming a criminal defense attorney, Mr. Pitoniak was a felony prosecutor and chief prosecutor in the Harris County Attorney’s office. Attorney Nathaniel Pitoniak is well-respected by his clients, former clients, and peers. The Law Office of Nathaniel Pitoniak can help you face your charges of organized crime from the best position possible. Contact Nathaniel Pitoniak today for representation for any criminal defense need.