RICO: Understanding RICO Act Crimes and Charges

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Someone who faces a racketeering charge must beat some serious allegations. Racketeering activities carry some stiff penalties with long sentences, and the judge can order the individual to pay for the damages done under the RICO Act. If the prosecutors charge someone with criminal RICO, he should seek the assistance of a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer experienced in this field will work to contradict the charges for a more favorable outcome. Speaking with a bail bonds company can help to get them released until the scheduled court date.

What Activities Constitute RICO Crimes?

People have a number of racketeering activities that classify as such under the RICO act. They include:

  • Gambling
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Bribery
  • Fraud

Under the criminal RICO statute, the crimes must relate to a criminal scheme that is ongoing over a 10-year period. In some cases, the government has struggled to prove an enterprise existed, but based on the criminal RICO statute, enterprises for legal or illegal purposes can be brought to justice.

Meant to Target the Mafia

At one point, the mafia had a much greater grip on America than what it does today. Previously, the federal government had a hard time prosecuting members of the mafia. Under the RICO Act, they could impose civil RICO and criminal RICO charges that brought them under control.

What Does the Government Need to Prove?

To prove Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations, the prosecutors must prove three different things. First, they have to prove that two predicate crimes were part of one of the racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations. Second, they must prove that this became a regular way for the business even under the guise of a legitimate business. Finally, the prosecution must prove that they regularly participated in this as an ongoing enterprise.

Stiff Penalties

RICO penalties are some of the harshest penalties around. If the prosecutors can prove two predicate crimes took place, the RICO penalties can add up to as much as 20 years behind bars. The government no longer uses the RICO Act to strictly target the mafia, seeing as it has proven effective in targeting a variety of organized crime, such as gang cartels, street gangs, politicians and corrupt police departments. Along with these targets, some of the other targets under the RICO act include corrupt corporations, managed care companies or political parties.

Must Have Legal Representation

Even civil RICO penalties can be stiff. The laws can be complex, and they require an experienced RICO lawyer who understands how to navigate these tricky legal waters. An individual would want someone who understands how to create a reasonable level of doubt in the jury’s minds so that it leads to a more favorable outcome.

The Civil Component

While RICO laws threaten people with lengthy prison sentences, one aspect rarely talked about comes from the civil RICO aspect. For example, anyone who has been injured because of a RICO violation can bring out a lawsuit against the organization. In addition, if they win, they will receive treble damages, which means that the court will triple the judgment against that organization. During the 1980s, lawyers for this were set up to take action, but they made it slightly more difficult in the 1990s. For example, you must first have proof that the defendant committed a RICO crime in relation to wire or mail fraud. Beware, the fraud basis will come under scrutiny from the courts. Second, a pattern of criminal activity must be established and two predicate crimes must be proven within a 10-year period. Finally, victims have a four-year statute of limitations established by the Supreme Court to show that they suffered damages.

RICO crimes can be a serious matter, and it doesn’t always require that an individual was involved with the mafia. In some cases, it comes from simpler charges, but it comes from a federal government unwilling to tolerate things, and because the law is so broad, it works well. Having an experienced lawyer who understands how to represent someone is a must under these circumstances to get a favorable outcome.