State v. Walker

Summarized by:

  • Court: Oregon Court of Appeals
  • Area(s) of Law: Criminal Law
  • Date Filed: 08-21-2014
  • Case #: S060828
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Linder, J. En Banc
  • Full Text Opinion

Casual and informal associations of individuals, as well as organizations with formal structures, can constitute an "enterprise" within the meaning of ORS 166.715(2); the key is whether the association or entity is engaged in ongoing, coordinated criminal activity and undertakes a purposeful venture, undertaking, or activity through a pattern of criminal activity.

The issue in this case was what constitutes an “enterprise” within the meaning of the Oregon Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (ORICO), ORS 166.715 - 166.735. Defendant and another man went into a Safeway store in Seaside, Oregon and stole approximately $800 worth of merchandise. At trial, the State showed Defendant and the other man had committed similar thefts at a Safeway in Sandy, Oregon just weeks before. Both the State and Defendant considered State v. Cheek to be controlling on the scope and meaning of the term "enterprise." In that case, the court held that an enterprise could be established by "proof of an on-going organization, however loose, that is distinct from the commission of separate criminal acts by an individual." Cheek, 100 Or. App. at 505. The State argued, and the trial court agreed, that given the particular modus operandi (stealing from the same chain store, stealing the same type of items) and that they had been engaging in this conduct for at least two months, the two were engaged in an enterprise. Using the statutory text, ordinary meaning, and legislative history, this Court concluded that the term "enterprise" is intended to imply that informal structures such as that in the case can also be considered "enterprises" so long as they are engaging in ongoing, coordinated activity, and undertakes a purposeful venture, undertaking, or activity through a pattern of criminal activity. Given the relationship between Defendant and the other man, the trial court, Court of Appeals, and this Court all agree this constituted an "enterprise." The decision of the Court of Appeals and the judgment of the circuit court are affirmed.

Advanced Search