Have you ever faced Rico violations? If that’s the case, maybe you’re wondering if you can successfully defend yourself against RICO charges. The consequences of a guilty verdict are harsh, considering the gravity of the allegations. However, with the help of a competent criminal defense attorney, people facing RICO allegations can avoid conviction.
But has someone ever successfully contested a RICO charge? This article is for you whether you are currently being charged or wish to familiarize yourself with the nature of this offense.
Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) to combat organized crime in the United States. Before RICO, prosecutors had little choice but to bring mob-related cases to court one at a time. The government was worried that they could only prosecute individuals rather than put an end to criminal enterprise.
All members of a corrupt organization are amenable to prosecution under RICO. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was created to combat the Mafia. Still, it is used against other forms of organized crime, such as gang cartels, street gangs, corrupt police agencies, and political corruption.
How Do You Get a RICO charge?
According to the RICO act’s definition of racketeering, two primary factors must arise to get a RICO charge. These are listed as follows:
- A criminal organization: Unlawful conduct must have advanced the illicit enterprise of a criminal organization, including a gang.
- Criminal activity pattern: To receive RICO charges, at least two RICO predicate acts must have occurred within ten years of each other.
The Three Crimes In The RICO Act
The following are the underlying offenses or crimes that can result in federal RICO prosecution.
1. Bank fraud
Crimes against banks fall under the purview of Civil RICO. You can file a Civil RICO claim against a bank if it employs threats or coercion to get you to surrender collateral or sell off your assets.
2. Drug trafficking
One of the most common RICO offenses involves drug trafficking. The 2012 case of Rodriguez Enterprise is a perfect illustration of this. Nine people in the crew have been arrested on drug trafficking charges.
A few even took part in killings and other acts of violence. It was also discovered that crimes such as money laundering, perjury, and obstruction of justice had been committed.
It was 2021 when Brandon Durell Hardison was found guilty of RICO murder, witness murder, and other heinous crimes. He was also notorious as the enforcer of the Gangster Disciples, a criminal racketeering organization.
Counterfeiting, abduction, bribery, arson, mail fraud, embezzlement, financial fraud, and blackmail are all crimes that can result in a RICO charge.
What Happens If You Are Accused of a RICO Violation?
In case of a RICO indictment, the U.S. Attorney may request a pre-trial order to freeze your assets pending the case’s outcome. This interim order aims to stop you from moving any assets that could be forfeited in the event of your conviction.
The maximum possible term for a qualifying offense is twenty years, and life in prison is possible in some cases. In addition to doing time in prison, convicted racketeers will have to give up all the money and assets they made.
Many defendants, when approached with more accusations for RICO, admitted guilt to lesser felonies to avoid the far more severe repercussions of a conviction. As a result, RICO’s detractors claim the law is being misused to prosecute and imprison people for minor offenses without due process.
Check Also: What Happens After a Mistrial?
How Do You Beat RICO Violations?
To overcome RICO violations, it’s crucial to have a skilled federal criminal defense attorney on your side who can effectively challenge the prosecution’s evidence and potentially have the charges dropped. Your attorney will carefully analyze the details of your case if you’re facing RICO accusations, and build a strong defense strategy tailored to your unique situation. Legally acceptable RICO defenses include:
Non-membership of a criminal enterprise
Even though you’re responsible for the crime, RICO won’t apply if you can prove that you weren’t part of the criminal organization. It wasn’t an agent of the criminal business or wasn’t involved in any actions related to the criminal organization.
Defenses Against a RICO Charge
However, there are robust defenses available in the face of RICO charges. This includes situations where the defendant’s rights under the Fourth Amendment have been infringed, such as when evidence is introduced into court without proper authorization. The prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt; thus, if they can’t do so beyond a possible suspect, the defendant must be found not guilty.
It is also impossible to file RICO charges if there is no evidence that the alleged criminal activity was connected to a larger criminal enterprise. If you’ve been accused of a RICO violation, you should seek the counsel of a skilled attorney immediately.
Contact the Drug Crimes Defense Lawyers at Ravel Law Firm
The federal government pursues criminal charges for RICO offenses to deter further criminal activity because of the harsh criminal penalties and significant financial ramifications that might result from a conviction.
Criminal prosecution underneath the federal RICO statute requires a sophisticated legal team that knows the ins and outs of federal RICO regulation. It can help you craft the most effective defense possible, given your circumstances.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will look into the details of your arrest, evaluate the evidence, and craft a defense that uses the RICO statute’s intricate provisions.
Also Read: Federal Conspiracy Charges Sentences
Criminal and Civil Penalties for RICO Violations
Many predicate offenses that can lead to RICO accusations carry far shorter potential sentences than a conviction in a RICO prosecution. Convicted criminals found guilty of breaking the federal RICO Act face a maximum of years in jail. Perhaps even life in jail if the max sentence for the predicate offense is life in prison, as stated in 18 U.S. Code 1963.
Funds, real property, and private possessions connected to suspected unlawful activities or illegitimate debt collection, even those connected to legal companies, are subject to seizure under the RICO legislation. It’s important to remember that the RICO act has both criminal and civil components, which can be just as severe if you’re convicted of breaking the law.
Suppose you’ve suffered damages because of a RICO violation. In that case, you can file a civil complaint, and if you win, the court must pay you “treble” damages.
Embezzling $1,000 throughout a racketeering scheme involving a business with sway over interstate trade might result in a $3,000 fine.
What Is The Minimum Sentence For a RICO Charge?
Certain crimes, such as those included by the RICO statute, incur a minimum sentence penalty of 10 years in jail.
Prison terms for white-collar crimes are typically proportional to the amount of stolen money. However, the RICO Act imposes harsh penalties regardless of the amount involved. If the mandatory minimums scare you, wait till you see the maximums.
Criminal convictions for RICO offenses typically result in mandatory life terms. Hiring a Dallas/Fort Worth white-collar criminal attorney who is both challenging and experienced will give you the best chance of avoiding a life sentence.
Can you beat a RICO indictment?
With the help of a competent federal criminal defense attorney, a RICO case can be won. Suppose you think the prosecution has enough evidence to prosecute you. In that case, that doesn’t mean you should surrender and plead guilty.
How often do RICO cases get beat?
Consequently, the plaintiffs won the case in only 3% of the total 145 cases they brought.
Why is a RICO charge so serious?
Being hit with RICO charges is a major deal due to the severe legal repercussions that can be imposed. The reason for this is that criminal acts are being performed for the benefit of a criminal group.
Is it hard to get out of RICO charges?
It’s not easy to clear your name of RICO charges, but it can be done. You need to have a federal criminal attorney who is not scared to go to trial in federal district court if you or your group is under examination for RICO allegations.
Is there a jury in the RICO case?
The judge and attorneys must write specific instructions to help the jury understand the issues at hand in any RICO trial.
Hi, I’m Brian Gary; I have my Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) degree from SMU Dedman School of Law in Dallas. Over the years, I have dealt with many families and successful corporate Legal cases. I have counseled many people on legal matters, and along with my profession, I write about Law on my blog. Please feel free to contact me for counseling/case discussion; I’ll be happy to help you.