Racketeering / RICO Violations

Settle for Nothing Less Than the Best Racketeering / RICO Violations Attorney

The federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations law, better known as RICO, passed in 1970. Before it was in place, prosecutors could only try mobsters individually. Since different people generally perpetrated each of the crimes committed by the mob as a whole, the government could only prosecute one person at a time, leaving the criminal organization intact.

That is the background of RICO but it is now rarely used against the mob or mafia. Instead, this overly broad law is used against all sorts of enterprises – both those acting legally and those acting illegally. If you are facing charges related to racketeering / RICO violations, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 for a consultation.

RICO Allows All Individuals Within a Corrupt Organization to Be Prosecuted

Once RICO was enacted, everyone who was involved in a corrupt organization could be prosecuted for crimes of the organization. This allowed the government to try the capos of crime organizations along with the hit men, and it also added significant sentencing, which further incentivized those low down on the totem pole to testify against others in the organization.

How RICO is Used Today

Now, RICO is rarely aimed at the Mafia and is instead used to attack other forms of “organized crime.” Common examples include:

  • Street gangs
  • Gang cartels
  • Corrupt police departments
  • Politicians

How to Violate RICO

In order to be in violation of RICO, a person must take part in a pattern of racketeering activity that is connected to a specific enterprise. There are 35 different offenses that can count as racketeering, the most commonly sited of which include:

  • Gambling
  • Murder
  • Arson
  • Drug dealing
  • Bribery
  • Kidnapping
  • Mail and wire fraud
  • Money laundering
  • Counterfeiting
  • Drug trafficking
  • Human trafficking
  • Extortion
  • Witness tampering
  • Forgery of citizenship papers

In order for a person to be charged under RICO, at least two of the applicable crimes must have been committed through the enterprise in the prior decade.

The Term “Enterprise” Can Be Used Broadly

One of the issues with RICO is how broad it is, which is due in large part to the way “enterprise” is defined. This does apply to a crime family, to street gangs, and to drug cartels. However, it can also apply to political parties, corporations, or even managed care companies.

Violating Racketeering Laws / RICO Can Have Significant Consequences

The federal criminal RICO statute allows for prison terms of as long as two decades along with significant fines of up to $250,000. The law also allows for the attachment of assets, which prevents them from being taking out of the country before a judgment can be issued. You will also be required to relinquish all business interests and gains that came from the crimes associated with the RICO violations.

A RICO / Racketeering Attorney Can Help

These are some of the most complex cases that generally involve many different types of evidence, various charges, and a wealth of allegations. There are many different defense strategies that might apply in a RICO case. Obviously, the best option is to provide evidence that you did not commit or conspire to commit the crimes in question. If there was no criminal act then you did not commit a RICO violation.

On the other hand, if the prosecution is able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you did commit a crime, there are still options. We can work to disprove the RICO charge by showing that you were acting on your own and not as part of a criminal enterprise. We can work to show that you were acting as part of a group or organization, but that group or organization doesn’t meet the legal definition required to be a criminal enterprise.

If there is a strong case against you, a RICO defense attorney can still help. We can negotiate with the prosecution to work toward the most lenient possible penalty. To learn more about how we can help with your particular case, contact Simmons Wagner, LLP at (949) 439-5857 right away.