RICO Lawyers | Decatur Office | Serving Town Creek, AL
300 Market Street, Suite 201AB, Decatur, AL 35601
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The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act was enacted in 1970 to address organized crime. Under RICO laws, anyone associated with the criminal group could be charged, including organization leaders who ordered or oversaw the criminal activity without directly taking part. RICO also provided for civil remedies and triple damages to recover unlawful gains.
A RICO charge generally involves participation in a “criminal enterprise” with a “pattern of racketeering activity.” To get a RICO charge, the prosecutor must suspect you were involved in a criminal gang or group and the criminal activity involved more than a one-time event. Initially, RICO was used to go after organized crime and the Mafia. However, since the law went into effect, it has been used to indict a number of alleged criminal enterprises, including street gangs, motorcycle gangs, corporations, and police departments
The RICO Act also makes it a violation to conspire to commit racketeering offenses. Conspiracy to violate RICO charges means that someone can be charged and convicted even if the crime was never carried out. A conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to commit a crime, with some overt act towards furthering the offense.
A “pattern of racketeering activity” requires at least two qualifying acts, within a period of ten years. The RICO Act has included several crimes that qualify as racketeering activity, including state and federal offenses. Acts of racketeering can include:
A RICO charge is a serious criminal offense that carries the possibility of jail time, fines, and seizure of assets. RICO charges are federal felony charges that include imprisonment for up to 20 years or more. In addition to prison penalties, there are severe financial penalties, which include forfeiture of any interest, security, or property derived from racketeering activity.
There are also civil penalties under RICO. A violation of the RICO Act could include ordering the defendant to turn over financial or business interests, restrict future activities, and break up organizations. Civil remedies can also require restitution to any victims of the criminal offenses.
When federal prosecutors charge someone with RICO offenses, the penalties can include years in federal prison and loss of your financial assets. However, you may have a strong legal case to beat RICO charges. Legal defenses may include challenging the prosecutor’s case to show there was no criminal enterprise and no pattern of criminal activity.
Even if you were involved in criminal activity, it has to be a pattern of racketeering. If there is only evidence of one crime, the defendant should not be convicted under RICO. Alternatively, committing a crime on your own without participation in a criminal organization may be another defense strategy.
Prosecutors may rely on the seriousness of RICO charges to get the defendant to plead guilty to other charges instead of facing the increased RICO penalties. However, before you plead guilty to criminal charges, you should consider talking to a criminal defense attorney for legal advice.
An attorney can often resolve your particular legal issue faster and better than trying to do it alone. A lawyer can help you navigate the legal system, while avoiding costly mistakes or procedural errors. You should seek out an attorney whose practice focuses on the area of law most relevant to your issue.
An experienced lawyer should be able to communicate a basic “road map” on how to proceed. The lawyer should be able to walk you through the anticipated process, key considerations, and potential pitfalls to avoid. Once you’ve laid out the facts of your situation to the lawyer, he/she should be able to frame expectations and likely scenarios to help you understand your legal issue.
Pro se – This Latin term refers to representing yourself in court instead of hiring professional legal counsel. Pro se representation can occur in either criminal or civil cases.
Statute – Refers to a law created by a legislative body. For example, the laws enacted by Congress are statutes.
Subject matter jurisdiction – Requirement that a particular court have authority to hear the claim based on the specific type of issue brought to the court. For example, the U.S. Bankruptcy Court only has subject matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy filings, therefore it does not have the authority to render binding judgment over other types of cases, such as divorce.