RICO Violations and Federal Crimes


What is RICO?

Description of RICO Act (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act)

RICO is part of the U.S. federal government’s Organized Crime Act of 1970. The purpose of RICO was to give prosecutors some teeth when going up against organized crime. A racket is just another way to describe a criminal organization – or group that commits crimes as a means of conducting regular business. Anyone participating in a racket can be charged with racketeering. Prior to the passage of RICO, it was very difficult to prosecute the leaders, or most important members, of organized crime units.

The targets of RICO are generally groups of people working together to profit from criminal activity. It could be a criminal gang, the mob, a drug cartel, or a money laundering operation. In more recent years, RICO has been used to prosecute groups working in the financial sector and profiting off of numerous white collar crimes.

A list of thirty-five (35) crimes; twenty-seven (27) federal crimes and eight (8) state crimes all fall under the umbrella of RICO. A person who is charged and found guilty of committing at least two (2) criminal acts of racketeering within a ten (10) year period can be charged under RICO if those criminal acts are related to a criminal organization. It is not limited to the person who committed the actual crimes – it extends to those who ordered or assisted others in the commission of the crimes.

RICO is a U.S. Federal law that extends criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. If you are found guilty of a crime or crimes under RICO, the penalties are some of the most severe of any crimes.

If you suspect that you may be charged with crimes under RICO, it is extremely important that you contact an aggressive criminal attorney – one who is experienced in both state and federal court.

RICO crime charges do not mean that you are guilty. You have the right to fight back and defend your liberties to avoid a conviction.

What Crimes Are Associated With RICO?

A criminal organization can often involve various criminal activities in their daily operation. Some of the most common crimes involving RICO include:

  • Drugs
  • Gambling
  • Prostitution
  • White Collar Crimes
  • Securities Fraud
  • Insider Trading
  • Insurance Fraud
  • Wire Fraud
  • Mail Fraud
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Arson
  • Kidnapping
  • Murder

If prosecutors are able to charge you with any two crimes in a ten year period as part of a criminal organization, you will likely be prosecuted under RICO. These crimes can involve the DEA, the FBI and/or the IRS. With seemingly unlimited resources at their disposal, the need for quality representation becomes apparent.

Federal prosecutors are able to freeze any assets of the criminal organization while waiting for the case to go to trial. This also means they can seize any business or personal property that they believe is involved in, or obtained in connection with, the criminal activity. Of course, they must file an injunction with the court and the freezing or seizure must be approved by a judge, but it is possible to have your access to your assets taken from you. Asset seizure can make all the difference when funding your defense.

You must protect your rights, and your assets, by hiring a reputable and experienced RICO attorney to represent all of your interests – both personal and financial. They can advise you on how best to fight the serious charges and protect your freedom and your property.

If you are convicted under RICO you will face extremely harsh penalties. A single act of racketeering can land you in prison for up to twenty (20) years and fines of up to $25,000. This does not include the personal hit you could take as you will be forced to forfeit all ill-gotten gains and any interest in any business you gained as part of the crimes committed.

Pittsburgh RICO Attorneys

Further, the government does not stop criminal penalties. For any person who has been harmed or injured by a RICO crime, a civil suit can be filed. Therefore, if someone can prove that your RICO crime(s) harmed them in some way, you can be on the hook for large sums of money in a civil lawsuit.

There is a four year statute of limitations by which a person must file their civil claim. But this is important when hiring an attorney – you will need a well-versed RICO lawyer who is capable of fighting both criminal and civil charges on your behalf. The legal team at SMT Legal is experienced in both areas.

We work to significantly increase your chances of having your charges reduced or withdrawn by building a strong defense strategy. In a RICO case, prosecutors will need to prove that the crimes you are charged with directly correlate to the advancement of a criminal organization. This can be very difficult to prove and we will work vehemently to craft a solid defense and combat any weak evidence. We will make sure we get answers to all questions to aid in proving your innocence as well as search for any holes in the prosecution’s case.

Our attorneys have experience in both state and federal court and are skillful in handling complex criminal cases. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at SMT Legal today.