Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs or Foreign Terrorist Organizations: Texas Penal Code §71.023

Texas Criminal Law

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The Texas Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs or Foreign Terrorist Organizations law gives police the right to arrest you if they believe you you were a leader of a gang or foreign terrorist organization and directed or supervised the commission of certain crimes.

The Texas legislature codified this criminal offense in Texas Penal Code Section 71.023. The law was updated in 2023 by expanding its applicability to “foreign terrorist organizations.” Before September 1, 2023, this law was known as Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs and did not apply to foreign terrorist organizations.

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Other laws were similarly updated with respect to foreign terrorist organizations, including Coercing, Inducing, or Soliciting Membership in a Criminal Street Gang or Foreign Terrorist Organization and Engaging in Organized Criminal Activity.

The Penal Code classifies the Texas Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations law under Title 11 “Organized Crime,” Chapter 71 “Organized Crime.” Learn more about the Texas offense of Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs or Foreign Terrorist Organizations below.

What is the current Texas law about Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs or Foreign Terrorist Organizations?

The current Texas law defines the offense of Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs or Foreign Terrorist Organizations in Penal Code Section §71.023 as follows:[1]

(a) A person commits an offense if the person, as part of the identifiable leadership of a criminal street gang or foreign terrorist organization, knowingly finances, directs, or supervises the commission of, or a conspiracy to commit, one or more of the following offenses by members of a criminal street gang or foreign terrorist organization:

(1) a felony offense that is listed in Article 42A.054(a), Code of Criminal Procedure;

(2) a felony offense for which it is shown that a deadly weapon, as defined by Section 1.07, was used or exhibited during the commission of the offense or during immediate flight from the commission of the offense; or

(3) an offense that is punishable under Section 481.112(e) or (f), 481.1121(b)(4), 481.1123(d), (e), or (f), 481.115(f), or 481.120(b)(6), Health and Safety Code.

How can I be charged with a Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations offense in Texas?

You can be charged with Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs in Texas if the state’s attorneys believe that each of the elements of §71.023(a) as described in the section above have been met.

What is the statute of limitation for Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations in Texas?

Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations offenses have a three-year limitations period.[2]

What is the penalty for a Texas Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations offense?

A conviction for Directing Activities of Criminal Street Gangs in Texas is punished as a Felony of the First Degree,[3] with a maximum possible fine under Texas state law of up to $10,000 a minimum of 25 years in prison and a maximum of up to life in prison. Learn about the differences between grades of felonies and misdemeanors here.

Can you get probation for Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations in Texas?

The Texas Code of Criminal Procedure does not specifically disallow judges from accepting deferred adjudication plea deals for these offenses.[4]

However, because this offense requires a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 25 years upon conviction, neither judges nor juries may recommend community supervision for this offense becase probation is prohibited for any suspended sentence of over 10 years.[5]

What level of crime is Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations in Texas?

The Penal Code classifies Directing Activities of Gangs and Terrorist Organizations as a first degree felony with a minimum 25-year prison sentence.

Learn more about the penalty range for this offense in the section above.


^1. Texas Penal Code §71.023. This law is current as of the 88th Legislature Regular Session.^2. See Code of Criminal Procedure 12.01(9)^3. Texas Penal Code §71.023(b)^4. See Chapter 42, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, Art. 42A.102.^5. Art. 42A.053(c), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and Art. 42A.056(1), Texas Code of Criminal Procedure


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