The Texas Engaging In Organized Criminal Activity statute, better known as Engaging In Organized Crime, is a powerful tool used by law enforcement and prosecutors. Charging criminal activity under this statute enhances the punishment range and also allows prosecutors greater latitude in presenting extraneous offenses to prove the criminal case.
There is another powerful aspect to the statute that isn’t as well publicized but can have dire consequences to the defendant who is in danger of being sentenced to a prison term. Release from prison from a conviction for Organized Criminal Activity requires the defendant to serve half the prison sentence before they can become eligible for parole.
This type of parole requirement typically occurs in aggravated offenses such as Aggravated Robbery, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Murder. Other felony prison sentences for crimes such as theft or burglary don’t require a defendant to serve half the prison sentence before parole eligibility and a defendant can expect to get released long before half their time is served. However, if the same defendant were convicted of Engaging in Organized Crime, and the underlying offense was burglary or theft, the defendant would be required to serve half the time prison sentence before parole eligibility.
The danger of serving aggravated time for conviction under any scenario of the Engaging in Organized Crime Statute should be carefully weighed by the criminal defense attorney when they are in engaged in plea negotiations with the prosecution.