Racketeering is a specific type of criminal enterprise in which an organized group profits from committing certain crimes, like bribery, embezzlement, murder, kidnapping, arson or robbery, and commits these crimes with similar results or similar intentions during a 10-year period.
The crime of racketeering is aggressively investigated and prosecuted by the federal government and the penalties associated with a federal racketeering conviction can be devastating, even for individuals with little to no criminal history, possibly including significant fines, restitution, forfeiture of assets, and a lengthy federal prison sentence, among other long-lasting consequences.
Racketeering charges require immediate intervention by a skilled trial lawyer with a proven history of success defending against racketeering allegations in federal court.
For more information about federal racketeering law, or to find out how best to defend yourself against allegations of racketeering or fraud, contact our knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today.
AFFORDABLE RACKETEERING DEFENSE ATTORNEY
Just because you have been arrested for or charged with racketeering does not automatically mean you will be convicted of the federal offense.
However, even just allegations of racketeering can have a significant impact on nearly every aspect of your life, possibly ruining your personal relationships and damaging your professional reputation, whether or not you are ever actually charged with the crime or found guilty of any wrongdoing.
Any time you are facing racketeering charges in federal court, you run the risk of suffering serious, long-lasting consequences, and you need a trial-tested defense attorney in your corner to defend you against the racketeering and other accompanying charges, one who can protect your future, your freedom, your finances, and your reputation.
At Seyb Law Group, our criminal defense attorneys have earned a reputation for protecting the rights of the criminally accused and we will put our expertise to work for you.
Consult our legal team today for a free evaluation of your racketeering case.
Racketeering is the term used to describe a pattern of specific criminal activity in which money is extorted from a victim by force, threat, or intimidation.
Generally speaking, the federal crime of racketeering involves operating an illegal business (known as a “racket”) for profit or engaging in a fraudulent scheme, criminal enterprise, or organized crime operation.
Federal racketeering laws target organizations (known as “racketeers”) who have a “pattern of criminal profiteering activity,” meaning their alleged criminal acts are not isolated incidents and are committed with similar results or similar intentions.
Federal racketeering charges can arise from any number of criminal offenses connected to an enterprise, such as:
- Money laundering,
- Federal drug crimes,
- Securities fraud,
- Bribery, or
The most common type of racketeering is a protection racket, a form of extortion by which a criminal organization provides “protection” to businesses or other groups in exchange for a fee and for not causing harm to the owner, business or property. Another common type of racketeering is cyber extortion.
An example of this criminal act would be a computer hacker illegally putting malware onto another person’s computer and then demanding money to restore the person’s access to his or her own computer.
In both examples of racketeering, a criminal entity created a specific problem for which they could offer a “fix,” in order to earn money illegally.
The crime of racketeering can also apply to those who retaliate against whistleblowers or victims or witnesses of crimes who cooperate with law enforcement as part of an ongoing investigation.
Federal Racketeering 18 U.S.C. § 1961
Although some states have enacted their own racketeering laws, the crime of racketeering is generally charged under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act (18 U.S.C. § 1961), which was enacted in 1970 to give the federal government a means of investigating and charging individuals involved in ongoing organized crime operations.
RICO sets out 35 criminal offenses – 27 federal and eight state – that constitute racketeering activity, from white-collar offenses, like money laundering and fraud, to violent crimes, like murder and kidnapping.
If you are suspected of being a drug boss or career criminal, meaning you allegedly committed, attempted to commit or conspired to commit two or more of these so-called “predicate” crimes over a 10-year period, you could potentially be indicted for racketeering.
The RICO Act essentially prevents organizations from using a pattern of criminal activity to further a criminal enterprise and the federal government is tough on RICO violations. Under RICO, the government can even prosecute the leaders of a criminal organization for crimes they ordered but did not carry out themselves.
For example, if an alleged crime boss orders one of his subordinates to commit murder, he can be prosecuted for the crime under RICO, even though he wasn’t the one who pulled the trigger.
In addition to the RICO Act, other federal laws covering racketeering offenses include the Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CEE) Statute (commonly referred to as the Kingpin Statute), the Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity Statute, and the Hobbs Act.
The state of California also has laws aimed at prosecuting organized crime, known as “profiteering,” which can be charged under California Penal Code § 186 through 186.7.
PENALTIES FOR A FEDERAL RACKETEERING CONVICTION
The potential penalties associated with a racketeering conviction are set forth in the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which were developed to impose tougher sentencing for white-collar crimes like racketeering and money laundering.
These guidelines were mandatory until 2005, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the guidelines would only be advisory, thereby giving judges more discretion in imposing penalties for racketeering crimes.
Generally speaking, 18 U.S.C. § 1961 is a law that increases the penalties associated with criminal offenses committed in conjunction with organized crime, and under this law, a racketeering conviction is punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $25,000 per RICO violation, in addition to the forfeiture of all property and assets associated with the criminal activity.
Although general racketeering statutes set forth maximum imprisonment of 20 years, a defendant’s sentence can be extended a great deal depending on the nature of the underlying crimes the racketeering charges stemmed from.
That means, if the underlying crime provides for a longer sentence than the RICO violation, then the longer sentence becomes the maximum punishment.
For example, the maximum penalty for murder is life in prison. If murder is charged as the underlying crime in a RICO case, the maximum sentence for the RICO violation becomes life in prison.
The racketeering law also allows victims of RICO violations to file a civil suit for treble damages, or triple the amount of actual damages.
The statute of limitations for a civil RICO suit is four years, which means the alleged victim has only four years from the time he or she discovers his or her damages to file a civil suit.
FEDERAL RACKETEERING DEFENSE
The RICO Act was originally enacted by Congress in an effort to combat organized crime syndicates like the mob and aggressively prosecute famous crime rings, but the federal government now uses the statute to indict businessmen, corrupt police departments, and politicians for alleged racketeering, fraud conspiracies, and other white-collar crimes.
The RICO Act is a powerful tool for prosecutors to wield in court and the penalties associated with a racketeering conviction under the RICO Act can be harsh and long-lasting.
That being said, any person charged with the federal crime of racketeering has the same rights as all other criminal defendants and is therefore presumed innocent until proven guilty by the court.
In order to get a conviction for racketeering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1961, the prosecution will have to prove the following elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you own and/or manage an organization; and
- That the organization has committed at least two RICO violations during a 10-year period.
Best Defense Strategies in Federal Racketeering Cases
Due to the complicated nature of racketeering crimes, racketeering cases typically involve a great deal of evidence collected over a long period of time, and racketeering defenses often involve complex legal issues that require the expertise of a criminal defense attorney who has experience defending criminal cases in federal court.
Some possible defenses your attorney may be able to present on your behalf to fight federal racketeering charges include the following:
- Factual innocence – If you did not actually commit or conspire to commit the crimes specified in the RICO violations charge, you cannot lawfully be convicted of racketeering.
- Insufficient evidence – If the prosecution cannot prove each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, you may be able to get a “not guilty” verdict.
- Illegal search and seizure – If the evidence against you was obtained during an illegal search, your attorney may be able to get the evidence thrown out.
Our defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group are familiar with the best strategies for defending federal racketeering charges and you can rely on our legal team to aggressively protect your rights and work to get you get the best possible outcome in your RICO violation case, whether that means a reduction in charges, a dismissal, an acquittal or fewer penalties.
HOW HIRING A RACKETEERING DEFENSE ATTORNEY CAN HELP
The term “racketeering” refers to criminal activity designed to benefit an organization, and under federal law, a criminal “organization” benefiting from alleged RICO violations can be a drug cartel, a street gang, a corporation, a political party, or even a family.
Since the RICO Act was first enacted, the law has been expanded to cover many activities beyond those committed by organized crime rings.
Today, If the government can prove that you belong to an organization that has committed at least two RICO violations over the course of 10 years, you could find yourself facing charges for racketeering.
Facing RICO charges in federal court can be stressful and intimidating, and because every RICO violation case is different, with unique circumstances that can affect prosecution and sentencing, you need an experienced federal criminal defense attorney to evaluate your case and help you develop a winning defense.
When facing prosecution in federal court for racketeering charges, you will be up against the federal government and a U.S. Attorney, both powerful forces determined to get a conviction and put you behind bars.
You will need a criminal defense attorney on your side who can ensure that you understand the allegations against you and the defenses available to you in fighting these allegations.
At Seyb Law Group, our lawyers have more than 60 years of combined criminal defense experience, and we are intimately familiar with the inner workings of the federal criminal justice system.
We know how a racketeering conviction could affect you and your family, and we will do everything in our power to help you get the best possible outcome in your case, guiding you through the complex process of fighting RICO violation charges and protecting yourself from a devastating racketeering conviction.
Our legal team at Seyb Law Group will work tirelessly to help you get your federal racketeering charges reduced to a lesser offense or possibly even dismissed altogether.
CONTACT OUR RACKETEERING DEFENSE ATTORNEYS TODAY
The federal government is taking steps to crack down on organized crime and U.S. Attorneys have made it a priority to prosecute individuals they consider to be career criminals or key players in drug crime operations.
The RICO Act was specifically enacted to set forth extended criminal penalties for racketeering crimes, and a RICO conviction in federal court is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence and considerable fines, plus other potentially life-changing consequences.
If you or someone you know has been charged with federal racketeering under the RICO Act, or you believe you may be the target of a racketeering investigation, do not hesitate to protect your legal rights.
Contact our Orange County criminal defense attorneys at Seyb Law Group today for a free initial consultation.