Get a Denver Criminal Lawyer Who Knows the Stakes of COCCA Charges
Maybe you and some buddies got together and decided to make a little extra money on the side. You knew it was kind of in the gray area of the law, but it never seemed like that big of a deal. No one was getting hurt, and you were finally able to stop living from paycheck to paycheck. Everything was great.
Until you got hit with COCCA charges
Your first reaction was confusion. “COCCA charges? What are those?” You did not really understand the stakes until you spoke to an attorney friend, and they laid it out for you: organized crime charges. Felony charges. Penalties that often include incredibly high fines and lengthy prison sentences.
In other words, not good. Not good at all.
How did this happen? You and your friends are not the mafia or anything. So, what exactly counts as organized crime in Colorado?
As a Denver defense attorney who has helped countless people get COCCA charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed over the course of her career, Kimberly Diego hears this question a lot – because most people do not understand how many wildly different acts are covered by the definition of organized crime in our state, and how a very small participant in a criminal organization can be charged with so many serious crimes as a result.
Effectively Fight COCCA Charges with a Knowledgeable Colorado Defense Attorney
What are Colorado’s COCCA laws? What do they cover?
COCCA is Colorado’s version of the federal RICO laws, originally created to target and prosecute members of organized crime – like the mafia. COCCA applies to a whole variety of crimes, committed in the context of an “enterprise”, which is like a conspiracy. This can involve a handful of people, or a large number of people. Each member of the enterprise does not need to know each other or even identify themselves as a group or organization.
When a series of crimes are committed by this enterprise (one crime would not be enough to make this a pattern of racketeering activity), COCCA charges can be added to essentially enhance the penalties faced by the participants – or, in other words, to raise the stakes by increasing the potential sentence every involved individual faces.
Virtually any crime or combination of crimes can serve as the basis for a COCCA charge.
COCCA is outlined under CRS 18-17-104. The legalese in the statute references “securities” and “unlawful debt” a lot, but essentially, it covers racketeering (a pattern of illegal activity).
Common COCCA crimes include distributing drugs, fencing stolen goods, gambling activities, and loan sharking. However, those are just the tip of the iceberg. Everything from gambling activities to murder can potentially be considered racketeering, so it is quite possible for someone to run afoul of COCCA laws without even realizing it.
Just to give you an idea of what we are talking about here, all of the following acts can potentially fall under racketeering:
- Aggravated Motor Vehicle Theft
- Attempt to Influence a Public Servant
- Computer Crimes
- Criminal Impersonation
- Criminal Mischief
- Drug Crimes
- Human Trafficking
- Intimidating a Juror
- Possessing an Illegal Weapon or a Dangerous Weapon
- Prostitution-Related Charges
- Sexual Exploitation of Children
- Tampering with a Witness or Victim
- Violent Crimes
- White Collar Crimes
- Bribery in Sports
- Credit Card Fraud
- Criminal Extortion
- Extortionate Extension of Credit
- Felony Charitable Fraud
- Identity Theft
- Money Laundering
- Securities Offenses
Because there is such a large umbrella, you need someone on your side who is not only well-versed in how COCCA works, but also with the specific type of illegal act you are being accused of engaging in.
Consequences of a COCCA Conviction in Colorado
We touched on this briefly above, but it is worth going into more detail here.
COCCA charges are a class 2 felony. That means they come with the possibility of 8-24 years of prison time as well as fines up to $25,000.
It does not stop there though. You will have to forfeit to the state any assets that were obtained through your illegal activities. Instead of the above-mentioned fine, you could be forced to pay either three times the value of whatever money you made or loss you caused (whichever is greater), as well as court costs and the money it cost the state to investigate and prosecute you.
You should also be aware of the fact that class 2 felonies come with a mandatory parole period of five years. If you were previously convicted of a felony, there is no way to avoid jail time if you are convicted this time.
It gets worse. COCCA charges can also open you up to the possibility of RICO charges, the federal law that deals with organized crime.
RICO charges come with the possibility of a 20-year federal prison sentence – for each count. So, if you have a handful of separate counts against you, it can quickly add up. Moreover, if the specific racketeering activity that you are accused of committing carries the possibility of life in prison at the federal level, your RICO penalties can be increased to match this.
The severity of the associated consequences is why the most important thing you can do if you suddenly find yourself facing charges is to reach out to a knowledgeable lawyer. There are a number of potential defense strategies that can be used depending on the specifics of your situation, but you need someone on your side who understands all of the nuances of the law.
Kimberly Diego is that someone. She has a track record of helping people to attain the best possible outcome in their cases, and she can help you, too.
Reach Out to Denver Defense Attorney Kimberly Diego Today for the Best Chance at Beating Your Charges
There are all kinds of strategies that a skilled Colorado criminal lawyer may be able to use to build a strong argument for your COCCA case. Perhaps you had no intent to commit a crime. Or there was police misconduct. Maybe you were falsely accused and have evidence to this effect. It may be possible to argue that any racketeering activities that occurred were unrelated, that it was not continuous, or that there was simply no criminal enterprise at all.
All of these are potentially strong defenses depending on the circumstances, but the strongest defense is to start working with an experienced attorney like Ms. Diego as soon as possible. The earlier in the case you get her involved, the far more likely you are to enjoy a positive outcome.
Why? Because she can keep you from saying or doing anything that might harm your case. She can make sure evidence is collected before it becomes inadmissible. In situations where clients learn they are being investigated before being charged, she may even be able to put a stop to the investigation before charges are ever filed. Additionally, the more time she has to craft your defense, the stronger it will be.
So do not delay. Get in touch with our office right now to set up a free initial consultation by filling out our easy online contact form, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling (720) 257-5346.