Continuing Criminal Enterprise — Non-Drug Offenses

Most blog readers probably are familiar with G.S. 90-95.1, which sets out the offense of continuing criminal enterprise with respect to drug offenses. I suspect, however, that readers are less familiar with G.S. 14-7.20, which sets out the offense of continuing criminal enterprise for non-drug offenses. Although it was enacted in 1995, the crime is rarely used, notwithstanding the fact that it is a felony and the statute provides for forfeiture of property. The statute provides that a person is guilty of the offense of continuing criminal enterprise when he or she:

(1) commits any felony in G.S. Chapter 14

(2) that is part of a continuing series of violations of that Chapter

(3) undertaken in concert with five or more other persons

(4) over whom the person occupies a position of organizer, supervisor, or other position of management, and

(5) the person obtains substantial income or resources from the continuing violations.

As should be clear from the elements, the offense is limited to felonies defined by G.S. Chapter 14. Therefore, drug offenses in Chapter 90, motor vehicle offenses in Chapter 20, and offenses defined in other chapters of the General Statutes are not covered this offense.

Punishment for this offense is as a Class H felony. Additionally, the statute provides for forfeiture of property. Specifically, G.S. 14-7.20(b) provides that a person convicted of the offense of continuing criminal enterprise must forfeit to the State

(1)  profits obtained by the person in the enterprise, and

(2)  any of the person’s interest in, claim against, or property or contractual rights of any kind affording a source of influence over such enterprise.

I am not sure why the crime is so rarely charged. Perhaps prosecutors haven’t been made aware of it. Or perhaps it is viewed as not offering much bang for the buck, in that the proof is somewhat rigorous for what is only a Class H felony. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on the issue.

3 thoughts on “Continuing Criminal Enterprise — Non-Drug Offenses”

  1. I have never charged it (nor the 90-95 one) simply because it is quite a high bar to clear. I do not think I have ever seen a case where there were five or more people involved, there was clear evidence that the defendant was organizer, and the defendant received substantial income from the enterprise. That is a lot to prove for very little reward (a class “H” felony, seriously?). Also, everything seized as a result of the charge winds up going to the county school board instead of back to the LEA and DA’s office, who are the ones who have to spend all of the resources necessary to prosecute the case to begin with.

    I wish we had criminal RICO here, that would be a much more effective tool to go after the drug dealers and gangs.

    • I agree with “the bar is too high”. It seems that the RICO Act would pertain to this genre of a case and it woulld only be applicable on a Federal level, hence the RICO Act. a class H felony is not woeth the court’s time and effort unless there is a substantial amount of money and property involved or unless they want to make an example out of someone like John Gotti or even Leona Helmsly or Burnie Madoff. that’s my guess.

  2. Too many stipulations in the elements (5 or more involved) (Proving who the organizer is) not much payoff with a class-H. You can most often do better with felony conspiracy. Give us something that has teeth and sends a message!!!


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