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Understanding racketeering charges


Because businesses in Tennessee and other states in the United States can greatly impact interstate and even foreign commerce, if it is believed that a business is engaging in certain illegal activities, this could lead to charges of a federal crime. Racketeering is when illegal businesses are run by organized groups or legitimate businesses are used to embezzle funds for an organized crime ring. Racketeering could lead to serious penalties for those convicted of being involved in the process.

Most common forms of racketeering charges deal with illegal industries such as prostitution, sex trafficking, illegal weapons trafficking, drug trafficking and counterfeiting. Many of these operations include several members in the operation; however, when individuals are accused of racketeering, authorities often locate and arrest lower ranked members versus the masterminds of the operation.

In order to prosecute those connected to allegations of racketeering, Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO in 1970. This act lays out what the prosecution must prove to convict an individual accused of racketeering. It is not necessary to prove that the defendant personally committed an illegal activity but rather that the defendant owned or managed an organization and the organization regularly performed one or more specific kinds of illegal activity.

In order to make a defense against such charges, a defendant would likely have to disprove either of these requirements. Additionally, defendants could consider other defense options that could help dismiss evidence against him or her. This could ultimately help the accused reduce or even dismiss the charges against them.

Being accused of a federal crime could mean very serious and harsh consequences. Because of that, it is important that defendants take the time to make a strong defense and protect their rights and interests.

Source: Offices of the United States Attorneys, "9-110.000 - Organized Crime And Racketeering," accessed Jan. 18, 2016

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