The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is commonly known as RICO. You may have heard of RICO from crime films or news reports. If so, you know that violating the RICO Act involves severe penalties and hefty sentences. If you’re a California resident who the police have arrested for RICO, My Rights Law California financial crimes lawyers defend clients in RICO cases. Contact us through our secure web form today or call (888) 702-8882 for a free consultation.
Under RICO laws, you have to be “employed by or associated with” an enterprise to encounter criminal charges. An enterprise is defined broadly as “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated, although not a legal entity.”
A criminal enterprise could be any collection of people working together for a common goal. Examples might include:
Street gangs, and
However, an enterprise can include more innocuous groups, like businesses, political organizations, campaigns, and police departments. 
What Is Racketeering?
When you hear the word RICO, you might think about racketeering. The two go together. Under RICO, it’s “unlawful for anyone employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.”
What does it mean to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity? You have to perpetrate at least two offenses within ten years. The offenses must be related, have similar goals, and pose a “threat of continued criminal activity.”
Not just any offense will count toward a pattern of racketeering activity. Instead, a list of 35 federal offenses and eight state crimes – known as “predicate offenses” can lead to a RICO charge. These include:
Theft of property during interstate transportation
What Does The State Have To Prove?
In criminal cases, the state has the burden of establishing that a defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Different offenses have varying elements. The state must establish each element.
If the state indicted you on federal RICO act charges, the state must prove:
An enterprise existed.
The enterprise affected interstate commerce.
You were connected with or employed by the enterprise.
You engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity.
You perpetrated or participated in the conduct of the enterprise through the pattern of racketeering activity through the commission of at least two acts of racketeering activity as outlined in the indictment.
RICO As A California State Offense
California prosecutes RICO charges under Penal Code 186.2, where it’s known as “criminal profiteering activity.” Criminal profiteering activity occurs when you attempt, commit, or threaten to commit felonies for financial gain, including but not limited to:
False or fraudulent schemes
Encouraging a minor to engage in commercial sex
Penalties For A RICO Conviction In California
Violations of RICO can have disastrous and long-lasting consequences, including 20 years in federal prison and $25,000 in fines. The court could also force you to surrender any assets obtained for or by the enterprise. In many RICO cases, federal prosecutors asked a court to authorize an order to seize a defendant’s assets early to avoid a rushed liquidation.
Anyone damaged by a criminal enterprise can file a civil lawsuit for their harm. So, while also taking your assets, you might be directed to pay substantial compensation to victims of a scheme.
Defending RICO Charges In CA
Prosecutors try RICO cases with special legal training and exhaustive experience litigating cases involving organized crimes. Your future might depend on the strength of the defense you can put forward.
We might hire RICO experts to help us know more about your case and help us spot potential flaws in the state’s case.
Our thorough and detailed efforts may help us create a powerful and bold defense strategy for your needs. Defenses you may raise in your RICO case can include:
An enterprise existed but did not affect interstate commerce.
You were not connected with or employed by an enterprise.
You did not perpetrate or organize two predicate acts within ten years.
The predicate acts were unrelated.
The predicate offenses weren’t perpetrated to further the enterprise.
Without proof, the federal prosecutors managing your RICO case might have to consider a plea or drop the charges altogether.
Our objective is not just to find ways to establish that you’re not guilty. Our objective is also to undermine the state’s case at every possibility. We will strive to make the prosecution’s job as hard as possible. My Rights Law RICO defense lawyers can assist you if you face criminal charges. Get a free case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer at My Rights Law today.
RICO As A Federal Offense
RICO is more than a state offense. A United States attorney (federal government prosecutor) can bring a organized crime case under federal law, too. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1962, RICO is a federal offense when you directly or indirectly:
Use the proceeds from your racketeering for purchases.
Maintain interest or control in the criminal organization.
Participate in a pattern of criminal organization activities.
Conspire to commit any of the aforementioned activities.
Typically, the court may sentence you to as many as twenty years if you’re convicted on RICO violations. However, you may spend life behind bars under some circumstances. You don’t need to commit murder for a court to sentence you to life. Instead, profiting millions from your illegal enterprise or being a top figure in the organized ring can result in this lifelong punishment. Even if the court imposes a lighter sentence, there’s a good chance you must forfeit your illegally obtained property due to criminal forfeiture laws.  Criminal forfeiture laws allow the government to seize anything you gain with dirty hands.
Of the 79,704 federal cases, less than 2% of these defendants went to trial. Of those who went to trial, only 17% saw an acquittal. Therefore, you may wish to have a licensed attorney assist you. Contact us for strategic defense and consider these common defenses.
Duress is an affirmative defense, meaning you confess to the crime and share that you did it involuntarily. You’re under duress when a person puts you in immediate fear of serious bodily injury or death and provides you with no way out of harm’s way unless you commit the crime. For example, suppose a drug kingpin had gangsters show up at your home and job, terrorizing your family, threatening to kill you unless you “washed” his money clean. In this case, most courts will find you didn’t help the enterprise of your own volition.
Entrapment occurs when a government agent, such as an officer, applies overwhelming pressure to coerce you into committing a crime. For this defense to apply, the agent had to do more than provide an opportunity for the crime to occur. The agent had to do more than suggest you commit the crime. Rather, the agent had to act in such a way that no reasonable person similarly situated could’ve said no. Moreover, the crime must be something that you wouldn’t (and hadn’t) ordinarily do.
Consult An Experienced Criminal Law Firm
Federal racketeering charges are very grave. These cases also tend to be very complex given the nature of criminal organizations. The government will try to use confusion to its benefit. Bring in My Rights Law knowledgeable RICO defense lawyers, and let us manage your case. We will negotiate with investigators and the prosecution for you. We may bargain and help you comprehend the benefits and drawbacks of any deals the government extends. Contact us by completing our secure web form today or call at (888) 702-8882 for a free case consultation.
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