The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act of 1970 reinvented the way prosecutors approach organized crime. Although it was originally designed to thwart crimes perpetrated by Mafia groups, the ramifications of the RICO Act live on today. In fact, RICO law is utilized to disrupt more than the unsavory acts of crime organizations. From corrupt police departments to motorcycle gangs, the widespread scope of RICO law requires every citizen to be wary of the people they associate with and the actions that transpire behind closed doors.
In this brief article, a federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg from The Rickman Law Firm will break down everything you should know about the RICO Act. Composed of 35 crimes, 27 federal and 8 state, it’s important to fully understand how you could be unknowingly implicated in a criminal enterprise. After all, every big-time criminal needs an unwitting scapegoat to take the fall.
RICO law is relatively complex, mainly due to the fact that a person must be involved with an enterprise and commit a minimum of two predicate crimes within a 10-year period to be prosecuted. Some of the most common RICO crimes include:
The enterprise doesn’t have to be criminal in nature. Relevant enterprises that validate a person or persons to be prosecuted under RICO law include a crime family, street gang, drug cartel, corporation, political party, or even a managed care company. The criminal RICO statute imposes severe punishments including prison sentences upwards of 20 years and steep financial penalties.
If a person has been injured as the result of a RICO violation, they can bring a civil suit against the transgressor. If they win, they will receive treble damages. Treble damages triple the amount of compensatory damages awarded to a plaintiff. For a plaintiff to file a successful RICO claim, they must be able to clearly demonstrate that the defendant engaged in a pattern of criminal activity taking place within the statute of limitations. Therefore, a RICO claim can materialize when you least expect it, which is why it’s imperative to consult a federal defense lawyer in St. Petersburg immediately if you have become the target of one.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.