Colorado Organized Crime Control Act
Most people have heard of the “Mafia” and are familiar with the crimes that they notoriously committed during the last quarter of the 20th century – murder, kidnapping, extortion, illegal gambling to name just a few.
One of the similarities between many of the different crimes committed by the Mafia is that the crimes themselves were all pieces of a larger crime – racketeering.
The Meriam Dictionary provides two definitions for racketeering. First, racketeering is the “extortion of money or advantage by threat or force.” Second, racketeering is also “a pattern of illegal activity (as extortion and murder) and that is carried out in furtherance of an enterprise (a criminal syndicate – like the Mafia) which is owned or controlled by those engaged in such activity.
The United States government, in order to combat the crimes of the Mafia, created the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
This act allowed law enforcement and Courts to enhance the punishments/sentences of individuals if their crimes were committed as part of, and in furtherance of, the goals of a criminal organization. The Act also permitted, among other things, that those individuals who were ‘high-up’ in the organization to be charged with and prosecuted for crimes that they had ordered other people to commit. RICO provided a powerful tool to law enforcement in allowing the higher-ups to be prosecuted, because often there is no proof that a “boss” committed a crime directly. For example, notorious gangster Al Capone was not prosecuted for any of his mob-related crimes; rather, he was prosecuted by the IRS for income tax evasion.
The Colorado Organized Crime Control Act resides in Article 17 of Section 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes and it is Colorado’s version of the Federal RICO Act.
Under C.R.S. 18-17-105, any person convicted in engaging in racketeering activity in violation of Section 104 of COCCA has committed a class two felony.
As a class two felony, a conviction for a COCCA offense is punishable by between 8 – 24 years in prison and/or fines ranging between $5,000 – $1,000,000.
On top of those standard penalties, a conviction under COCCA can also lead to the defendant being forced to forfeit to the state “any interest, including proceeds, he/she has acquired or maintained in violation of” the act. Please see our Civil Forfeiture page for more information.
Finally, a conviction in a COCCA case can also lead to civil remedies meaning that you may be sued, outside of the criminal case, and in your individual capacity.
Often times, when someone is charged with a COCCA charge, that person was not, or did not know, that they were acting in accordance with, or in furtherance of, a racketeering organization. Frequently, we see these cases in the drug/ controlled substance context. Often, someone will buy or sell some small quantity of controlled substances and then end up getting caught up in a much larger investigation. However, to be found guilty of a COCCA offense, the prosecution must be able to prove that there was an enterprise to begin with. In those cases, it is imperative that you have legal representation that can point out your role in the case and make sure that your rights and future are protected.
Contact the Law Office of Jacob E. Martinez today in order to set up a free consultation with our experienced Attorneys.