Colorado’s COCCA law covers organized crime, with a strong focus on racketeering.
What exactly does that entail? In this post, we’ll detail the law and associated penalties, and tell you how to protect your rights if you are facing charges.
Breaking Down the COCCA Law
The Colorado Organized Crime Control Act reads as such:
“(1) (a) It is unlawful for any person who knowingly has received any proceeds derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt to use or invest, whether directly or indirectly, any part of such proceeds or the proceeds derived from the investment or use thereof in the acquisition of any title to, or any right, interest, or equity in, real property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise.
(b) A purchase of securities on the open market for purposes of investment, and without the intention of controlling or participating in the control of the issuer, or of assisting another to do so, shall not be unlawful under this subsection (1) if the securities of the issuer held by the purchaser, the members of his immediate family, and his or their accomplices in any pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt after such purchase do not amount in the aggregate to one percent of the outstanding securities of any one class and do not confer, either in law or in fact, the power to elect one or more directors of the issuer.
(2) It is unlawful for any person, through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt, to knowingly acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise or real property.
(3) It is unlawful for any person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise to knowingly conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt.
(4) It is unlawful for any person to conspire or endeavor to violate any of the provisions of subsection (1), (2), or (3) of this section.”
What does all of that mean in terms of actions you can take that might run afoul of COCCA laws? Essentially, organized crime is a business, and as such it is about making money. The difference between organized crime and legitimate business enterprises is that organized crime engages in criminal acts to make money.
So, if you engage in an ongoing pattern of illegal activities to make money, there’s a good chance it falls under the purview of COCCA.
Still confused? Here’s the thing – COCCA can cover all kinds of criminal acts. Gambling. Being a loan shark. Selling stolen goods. Selling drugs. Human trafficking. Arson. Computer crimes. Kidnapping. Murder. Bribery. Money laundering.
Those are just the beginning. It’s not just a large umbrella, it’s the roof of a professional sports stadium.
Worse, penalties are incredibly serious.
A COCCA charge is a class 2 felony, which means that you could potentially be hit with a prison sentence of up to 24 years and a fine up to $25,000. Or, instead of the fine, you might have to pay the greater of three time the money you made (or the losses you caused) due to your illegal activities. Moreover, you will be required to forfeit all assets gained due to your illegal activities.
Oh, and COCCA charges can also serve as a sort of gateway to you potentially facing federal RICO charges, which include a 20-year sentence in federal prison for each count you are convicted on.
Seeking Legal Help for a Charge under COCCA
If you have been charged under the COCCA law, you could face multiple charges of racketeering, money laundering, conspiracy, and other associated crimes. You could be facing long prison sentencing and steep fines under state law and possible federal laws.
Because of this, it’s crucial to contact an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights. Call for a free consultation today with a knowledgeable Colorado criminal attorney. We’ll review your case and explain possible defenses to get your charges reduced or dropped. Since the potential penalties are so serious, don’t delay in reaching out for help.
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” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.