What to do when facing racketeering charges

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Being charged with racketeering sounds like something from a movie about the mafia. However, this federal charge carries severe penalties upon conviction.

Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what’s involved in the racketeering charges against you.

The fight against organized crime

The federal government was frustrated by its inability to convict mob bosses for the crimes they had others carry out on their behalf. In 1970, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act was enacted to charge and prosecute those high up in the Mafia hierarchy. 

Since then, The RICO Act has expanded to allow the United States to convict people of engaging in ongoing illegal activity as part of a larger organization. However, there are several elements the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to secure a conviction.

1. The existence of an “enterprise”

Under RICO, an enterprise can be any individual, partnership, corporation, union or group of associated individuals. It isn’t required to be a legal entity but must have a structure and purpose separate from the criminal activities.

2. There must be a pattern of racketeering activity

To prove a pattern, the prosecution must show that the defendant engaged in at least two acts of racketeering activity within a 10-year period. This can include bribery, extortion, fraud, money laundering, drug trafficking and murder.

3. There is a connection between the enterprise and criminal acts

The racketeering activity must be conducted through the enterprise or be related to its operations, either as a way to further its goals or as part of its regular way of doing business.

4. It affected interstate commerce

The crime must have an impact on either national or foreign commerce.

Understanding all the elements of a RICO conviction can assist with building a solid defense. Be sure to preserve any documents, emails or financial records that can disprove any part of the charges against you. A proactive approach can help you through this challenging period and significantly impact the outcome of your case.



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