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The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), is a federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts done as part of an ongoing criminal organization. Specifically, RICO focuses on racketeering or performing dishonest and fraudulent business dealings. This bill was designed to target the leaders of syndicates, who often order people to do crimes but never commit the crimes themselves.
RICO was passed in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act and signed into law by Richard Nixon. It was originally designed to prosecute the Mafia and other individuals participating in organized crime, but its use is now more widespread.
Racketeering could be considered any of the following: Any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical, dealing in obscene matter, harboring certain illegal aliens, obstruction of justice, slavery, and others.
Under RICO, someone who has committed at least 2 acts of racketeering activity (drawn from a list of 27 federal crimes and 8 state crimes) within a 10-period can be charged with racketeering. Those who are accused and found guilty could face some of the following sentences:
- A fine of up to $25,000
- Up to 20 years in prison
- Forfeiture of all business interests and gains from the criminal activity
In addition, you could be retried in civil court. Plaintiffs can legally sue you for triple damages involved in your crime.
Investigators who wish to prosecute a RICO case must establish proof of the existence of a criminal organization first. U.S. attorneys general who pursue these charges can opt to seek an injunction or restraining order before trial that can prevent the assets in question from being transferred and requires you to put up a performance bond. The bond usually serves to push you to plead guilty to the charges before an indictment.
Prosecution for Retaliation
In addition to prosecuting the crime, RICO laws also protect whistleblowers, victims, and witnesses of crimes when they cooperate with investigators. Also, an anti-strategic lawsuit against public participation laws (SLAPP) can be applied to the case to stop corporations or individuals accused of the crimes from abusing the legal system by filing retaliatory lawsuits against the people participating in the ongoing investigation.
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If you’re facing racketeering charges, make sure you have an experienced Florida federal crimes defense attorney on your side. Conviction under RICO means you could be sentenced to extended prison time and exorbitant legal fees from the criminal and civil court. Musca Law attorneys are extremely skilled in criminal defense and have more than 150 years of collective legal experience to offer your case. If you have been charged with a crime, you should hire the best defense possible to fight for your rights and your freedom. Our criminal defense lawyers have earned a reputation for excellence among our peers, judges, and prosecutors throughout southern Florida. Our team members can provide an aggressive criminal defense that focuses on the strengths of your case while exploiting the weaknesses present in the prosecution’s argument. Or attention to detail and evidentiary challenges where appropriate hold the prosecution to their burden of proof. Let us see what we can do for you and your case.