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Texas Gang Laws

Posted on December 27, 2023 in

Harsh penalties are imposed on individuals believed to be involved in gang activity in Texas. The Texas legislature has enacted laws to target any perceived or actual actions by street gangs. Reviewing these laws gives a clearer understanding of how a Houston criminal defense attorney can help if you are charged with Texas gang crimes. 

How Texas Law Defines a Gang

Texas has defined a gang as at least three or more individuals regularly affiliating in criminal activity (71.01) that share identifiers such as signs or symbols and have a recognizable leader. The membership in this organization can evolve. The collaborators profit from engaging in criminal activity.

Texas Laws Aimed at Gang Activity

Five statutes are geared toward gang activity in Texas (Tex. Pen. Code §71.01) and also address the punishments for the actions. Gang activity in Houston can be met with swift consequences. 

Participating in Organized Illicit Activities

Gang-related conduct or activity is recognized as organized crime in Texas(Tex. Pen. Code §71.02). Organized crime activity is defined as an action to establish, participate in, or profit as a member of the organization. There may a combination of any of the following activities:

  • Murder
  • Arson 
  • Forgery
  • Assault, aggravated assault, or sexual assault
  • Burglary of a motor vehicle or auto theft 
  • Promotion of prostitution
  • Certain gambling offenses
  • The unlawful repair, sale, manufacture, and transportation of firearms
  • Solicitation of minor or illegal conduct involving children aged 18 or younger
  • Smuggling of persons

This list is not a complete representation of actions considered to be organized crime. Being convicted or participating in organized crime is punishable by one degree higher than the lesser offense.

Violation of Court Order Enjoining Organized Criminal Activity

Gang injunctions are created to stop the association of gang members with each other, particularly at specific locations. The government files a civil lawsuit against the individuals considered gang members, and they can be declared a public nuisance. The temporary order will prevent their association, engaging in certain activities, and gathering in specified locations, with violation of this order leading to arrest.

Initiating, Encouraging, or Soliciting Criminal Street Gang Membership

Recruiting, coercing, or solicitous activity to grow gang membership (Tex. Pen. Code §71.022) is a felony. Initiations into gang membership equal the potential member committing some crime to be accepted. Additionally, soliciting anyone 17 or younger to be in a gang is illegal.

Directing Criminal Street Gang Activity

A person proven to be a leader (Tex. Pen. Code §71.023) of a gang and to have directed, financed, or supervised other gang members at will can receive first-degree felony charges. This charge meant to crack down on gang leader activity can result in severe punishment.

Gang-Free Zones

Participating in organized crime in any zone designated as gang-free (Tex. Pen. Code §71.028) can bring first-degree felony charges. Learning institutions, malls, movie theaters, public swimming pools, video arcade facilities, youth centers, and school buses are a few of the designated gang-free areas.

Supportive Houston Criminal Defense

If you feel misrepresented by Texas laws and your rights are not adequately protected in Houston, contact the Law Office of David A. Breston, Criminal Defense Attorney. Our unique representation of clients offers a better understanding of your needs and strives toward better outcomes in a case. Schedule your free, confidential consultation today.