The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, passed by the United States Congress on October 15, 1970 was revolutionary. Prior to the RICO Act, Federal prosecutors were unable to legally tie organized crime leaders to those committing the crimes. By passing RICO, those ordering crimes could be prosecuted along with those committing the crimes on their behalf. Furthermore, the RICO Act was designed to specifically target known organized crime such that 35 specific offenses were listed as elements for prosecution. If you are facing RICO charges, you need an attorney with experience in handling such cases.
Federal Racketeering or RICO offenses present a pattern of criminal behavior spanning years and multiple persons.
There are 35 specific crimes included in the RICO Act.
Here is a list of some of those crimes.
Generally, those convicted of Federal Racketeering/RICO crimes are sentenced to a maximum 20 years and $25,000 fines per count. So for a Federal RICO case at least two offenses in a ten-year period must be charged and in many cases, far more specific charges are brought.
Remember too that anyone facing Federal RICO charges will be facing other charges as well so that a loss of the case generally means spending the rest of one’s days in prison. That is why time is so important to fighting a RICO charge. The sooner you get started preparing your defense, the better your odds of beating the charges.
In addition, losing your RICO case can cost much more on the backside. Plaintiffs can use the outcome of the criminal trial to form the basis of a civil lawsuit. If such a case is lost, the cost is triple any damages claimed. For instance, if the case involved embezzlement of say, $100,000 then losing a civil RICO lawsuit will cost $300,000.
What is a RICO?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO was passed in 1970 as a means by which the Federal government could combat organized crime. The act today is covered in 18 USC §§ 1961–1968 and provides the legal means by which prosecutors can identify and convict those who operate illegal businesses. Thus, “A RICO” is used when speaking of someone facing serious criminal charges related to organized crime and racketeering.
What is the Definition of Racketeering?
The United States Code 18:1961 lists 35 specific crimes which are considered “rackets.” A Racket is a dishonest service which is predicated by a need which has been created by those offering a solution. By way of example: protection money. Criminal elements create trouble in a neighborhood, causing shopkeepers to fear. The same criminal elements then approach the business owners and inform them that they will protect the business for a price. If the offer is refused, the business then has trouble. This is one of the most known organized crime rackets, but there are many others. These crimes make up the foundation for RICO charges.
What is a Rico Claim?
In order to prosecute a person for the larger RICO crime, a RICO claim will often be made in order to establish a predicate act. A RICO claim cannot exist without some kind of criminal activity so in making the claim, a prosecutor or plaintiff is seeking to establish criminal activity prior to seeking formal and full RICO charges.