The RICO Act: What You Should Know

The RICO Act: What You Should Know

You may not be familiar with the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but for some companies and groups, this law can land individuals in hot water with the state and federal government. Here's what you should know.

WHAT DOES RICO DO?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or the RICO Act was initially drafted to address mob-related crimes in the 1970s. In general, this act lists the illegal activities and punishments for racketeering and organized crime which can often include more than just one violation.

In the 20th century, the mafia's influence ran deep in America's politics, entertainment, and private life, especially in bigger cities like New York and Chicago. Many mafia families maintained power over generations, passing down the tricks of the trade to their sons and daughters.

Because these criminal organizations were so ingrained, many mafia bosses and associates ran legitimate and illegitimate businesses across the United States. They were affluent enough to pay off politicians and business moguls to ensure that their interests in government and the private sector would be protected.

Now, the RICO Act applies to many organizations, including corrupt police departments to motorcycle gangs. The main difference between RICO and other criminal laws is that the RICO Act is specifically targeted toward crimes that occur across state lines.

For example, if a gang manufactures counterfeit money and passes it on to a cell in another state, they may be charged under the RICO Act.

Crimes included in most racketeering cases may include:

  • Money laundering
  • Homicide
  • Extortion
  • Witness tampering
  • Robbery
  • Arson
  • Securities violations
  • Wire fraud
  • Kidnapping

These criminal acts are not racketeering per se, but they are often committed in the commission of a RICO violation and can be the basis for a case against an organization. The other significant detail associated with this case is that these crimes are charged at the federal level.

FEDERAL CRIMES

Criminal acts that are considered illegal at the federal level are almost always prosecuted in a federal court. This means that instead of attending a hearing in a local court, the offender will attend their hearing in a federal court with a federally appointed judge.

These cases may be brought to court by private individuals or prosecutors acting on behalf of the government. This means that a whistleblower can bring a RICO case against an organization, and the case will still be prosecuted through a federal court.

PENALTIES FOR RICO

Depending on the pattern of criminal activity and the scope of the racketeering, the penalties for RICO crimes can often be severe.

IN many cases, violations are punishable with at least 20 years to life in federal prison and fines of either $250,000 or twice the amount of proceeds from the illegal activity. The court may also require civil remedies for cases brought to court by a private party.

This means that the offender would pay restitution to the victims if the jury can find sufficient proof that the crimes were committed and the victims experienced distress or harm as a result.

ACCUSED UNDER THE RICO ACT?

If you've been accused of racketeering or you believe you may be under investigation, contact The Law Office of Armando J. Hernandez, P.A. immediately. Our attorneys have the experience you need to pursue a favorable result. We fight tirelessly for our clients' freedom and rights throughout the criminal process.

Contact our firm today.

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