Are All Forms of Joint Crime Really 'Organized Crime?' On the New Israeli Combating Criminal Organizations Law and Parallel Legislation in the U.S. And Other Countries

44 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2010

See all articles by Boaz Sangero

Boaz Sangero

College of Law and Business - Ramat Gan Law School; Sapir Academic College

Date Written: July 31, 2007


It is seemingly possible to think that the new Israeli Combating Criminal Organizations Law, 20031 is a desirable statute. After all – how many struggles are more justified than the fight against organized crime?

This Article will demonstrate that, in view of the extensive and comprehensive legislation already existing in Israel prior to the enactment of the new law, there was no need at all for an additional statute. Furthermore, it will show that the excessively broad definition given to the term “criminal organization” is liable to dominate Israeli criminal law and make the already draconian penal code – which Israel inherited from the British Mandate – even more draconian.

The treatment of this subject also illustrates the danger in a distorted conception of criminal law and the danger of the total dominance of law enforcement officials in the process of criminal legislation. Before it was even possible to enjoy the relative progress heralded by Amendment No. 39 of the Penal Law2 – which, in 1994, replaced the general part of the Law with better statutory arrangements – the Combating Criminal Organizations Law was already enacted, in effect nullifying one of the major achievements of the 1994 amendment – the cancellation of the joint liability of co-conspirators.

The definition of a “criminal organization” in the new Israeli statute3 is sweeping, is incompatible with criminological studies of organized crime, and does not draw conclusions from statutes in other countries dealing with criminal organizations. It facilitates the circumvention of general arrangements based on fundamental principles of criminal law and arouses discouraging thoughts regarding the practical possibility for generating progress in the criminal law.

Organized crime troubles many societies and it is no wonder that the effort to fight it has led to special legislation in many legal systems.4 However, such legislation must also be enacted wisely, while relating to the unique attributes of organized crime, so that, on the one hand, it will be effective against organized crime, and on the other hand, it will not dominate the criminal law in its entirety – making it overly drastic, while trampling the rights of suspects and defendants. The lessons that may be learned from the new Israeli statute are not limited to Israeli reality, but are relevant to all legal systems dealing with this issue.

The first part of this Article (Sections II and III) will focus on the background to the enactment of the new statute – both its true background and the background presented in the media. The second part of the Article (Section IV) will review the severe tools created by the new law. The third part of the Article (Section V) will compare the definition of a “criminal organization” in the new Israeli statute to definitions appearing in the laws of other countries. The fourth part of the Article (Section VI) will relate to criminological research on the topic of organized crime – both in Israel and in other countries. The fifth part of the Article (Sections VII and VIII) will relate to the enthusiastic and dangerous use of the new statute. Finally, the last part of this Article will propose an alternative approach to this subject. This alternative approach may constitute a suitable model for legislation dealing with organized crime in other countries as well.

Suggested Citation

Sangero, Boaz, Are All Forms of Joint Crime Really 'Organized Crime?' On the New Israeli Combating Criminal Organizations Law and Parallel Legislation in the U.S. And Other Countries (July 31, 2007). Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 29, p. 61, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Boaz Sangero (Contact Author)

College of Law and Business - Ramat Gan Law School ( email )

26 Ben-Gurion St.
Ramat Gan, 52275

Sapir Academic College ( email )

Hof Ashkelon, 7916500

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