What is RICO Law?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, commonly referred to as the RICO Act or simply RICO, is a federal statute that lays out harsh criminal and civil penalties for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. It was enacted as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970, and used initially to prosecute the Mafia. Its later application has been more widespread. Now, the statute is commonly used as an instrument to hold businesses liable for engaging in “racketeering” activity over an extended period of time.
What is Racketeering?
Racketeering, for purposes of these charges, means a pattern of illegal activities carried out by a member of the enterprise. For RICO charges to apply, there must be a pattern of illegal activity. The Supreme Court has instructed that a pattern may be found if the acts under consideration have the same or similar purposes, participants, victims, or methods, or are otherwise related by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated events.
RICO Charges & Penalties
Under the Act, a pattern is established when a person commits two of the Act’s prohibited activities. There are 35 prohibited activities, spanning across a wide variety of nonviolent crimes (like bribery, extortion, fraud, and embezzlement) and violent crimes (like murder, kidnaping, and arson).
Determined prosecutors have incentives to pursue RICO cases. Not only are there enhanced penalties, but when a person is indicted under RICO, the prosecutor has discretion to try to seize the accused person’s assets.
Whether you want to go to trial or want a quiet settlement, you need a lawyer with the knowledge and experience to help you fight for the best possible outcome in your case. Having a lawyer before you talk to a police officer or federal agent is one of your rights as an American and it is wise to talk with a lawyer before you try to “go it alone” against powerful and experienced opposing forces. Lawyers at Gaskins Bennett & Birrell have handled many complex RICO cases involving unique legal and factual issues. Effective lawyers have to have a savvy understanding of these issues and a determination to wade through the facts and tell your side of the story.
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