Racketeering is a serious criminal offense that involves organized and ongoing criminal activity. To combat such criminal enterprises, many states, including Colorado, have enacted laws specifically targeting racketeering. In Colorado, the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA) provides a powerful legal tool to prosecute individuals involved in organized criminal activities. These laws are crucial not only for defendants facing COCCA charges but also for the general public to comprehend the state’s efforts to combat organized crime and protect its citizens.
Overview of Racketeering Laws
Racketeering laws aim to target and dismantle criminal enterprises that engage in organized criminal activities. These laws provide enhanced penalties and enable prosecutors to target the structure and operations of criminal organizations rather than focusing solely on individual crimes.
Colorado, the COCCA serves as the primary legislation for prosecuting racketeering offenses. COCCA defines racketeering as engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity that involves at least two incidents of criminal conduct within a specified time frame. The act lists a range of criminal activities that qualify as racketeering, including drug trafficking, money laundering, bribery, theft, and fraud.
COCCA Charges and Penalties
When a defendant is charged under COCCA, they face significant penalties if convicted. The COCCA penalties are severe because the law considers the harm caused by organized criminal enterprises and aims to dismantle such operations. The penalties for COCCA charges include substantial fines, lengthy prison sentences, and asset forfeiture.
Under COCCA, a conviction for racketeering can result in a Class 2 felony. The punishment for a Class 2 felony in Colorado includes a prison term of 8 to 24 years and fines ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000. Additionally, the court can order the forfeiture of assets acquired through the racketeering activities.
It’s important to note that COCCA charges can be complex, as they require establishing a pattern of criminal conduct and proving the defendant’s involvement in the racketeering enterprise. Prosecutors must present substantial evidence linking the defendant to the criminal activities and demonstrating their participation in an ongoing criminal enterprise.
Defenses against COCCA Charges
Defending against COCCA charges is a complex task that requires a comprehensive understanding of Colorado’s racketeering laws. Some potential defenses that can be employed in COCCA cases include the following:
- Lack of Evidence: Challenging the prosecution’s evidence and demonstrating the insufficiency or lack of evidence linking the defendant to the alleged racketeering activities.
- Lack of Criminal Intent: Arguing that the defendant did not have the requisite criminal intent or knowledge of the racketeering enterprise’s activities.
- Constitutional Violations: Asserting that the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated during the investigation, arrest, or evidence collection, thereby rendering the evidence inadmissible in court.
- Insufficient Pattern of Racketeering Activity: Contesting the prosecution’s claim that a pattern of racketeering activity exists by disputing the number of incidents or establishing that the criminal activities do not meet the required criteria.
- Duress or Coercion: Presenting evidence that the defendant engaged in criminal activities under duress or coercion, meaning they were compelled to participate against their will.
Consult an experienced criminal defense attorney to determine the most appropriate defense strategy based on the case’s circumstances. They can analyze the evidence, assess the strength of the prosecution’s case, and guide the defendant through the legal process.
Colorado’s Efforts to Combat Organized Crime
Colorado’s enactment of the COCCA highlights the state’s commitment to combating organized crime and protecting its citizens. Colorado seeks to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that engage in ongoing criminal conduct by specifically targeting racketeering activities. The COCCA is a powerful tool for law enforcement and prosecutors to hold individuals accountable for their involvement in organized crime.
Moreover, Colorado recognizes the importance of collaboration between law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, and other stakeholders to combat organized crime effectively. They can effectively target and dismantle criminal enterprises by working together, sharing intelligence, and coordinating efforts.
Colorado’s racketeering laws, embodied in the COCCA, play a crucial role in the state’s fight against organized crime. By defining racketeering activities and providing enhanced penalties, the COCCA enables prosecutors to disrupt and dismantle criminal enterprises that threaten the safety and well-being of Colorado’s communities.
Facing COCCA charges is a serious matter, and defendants need to understand their rights, the intricacies of the law, and the available defense strategies. Consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney is essential to mount a strong defense and navigate the complexities of the legal process.
Through the diligent enforcement of the COCCA and the collaborative efforts of law enforcement agencies, Colorado is working to ensure the safety and security of its residents while sending a strong message that organized crime will not be tolerated.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.