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How will RICO laws affect your criminal defense?

On Behalf of | Dec 2, 2019 | Firm News |

Whether it came as a surprise to you or not, the day police or government agents swarmed into your place of business and arrested you for participating in organized crime may have been one of the darkest days of your life. Not only did it place your personal future at risk but also the future of your business and subsequently, the well-being of your family who depends on it.

Understanding the charges you face is the first step to building a strong criminal defense. It is also important to know that no matter how much evidence authorities claim to have against you, you still have rights, and there may be options available that can lessen the negative outcomes of your situation.

What is racketeering?

If you are facing charges of racketeering, you are likely facing the laws and penalties included in the Racketeering Influenced and Corruptions Act. RICO is a federal law that targets groups that run rackets, illegal businesses such as drug rings and other criminal organizations. However, RICO also recognizes that these and other illegal activities may take place under the guise of legitimate businesses. If authorities believe you are involved in a racket, it may include any of the following crimes or others:

  • Gambling
  • Prostitution and sex trafficking
  • Embezzlement
  • Extortion
  • Counterfeiting

If you work for a labor union, authorities may be investigating allegations that you and others in your supposed organization have been diverting money from pension plans and other employee benefits. Because these actions are often devastating to businesses and their employees, the federal government enacted RICO to help authorities charge and prosecute the higher ranking members of such organizations who may otherwise be difficult to prosecute because they are not always involved in the actual commission of any crimes.

Creating a strong defense

In order to successfully prosecute you for crimes under RICO, prosecutors must prove that you were part of the ownership or management of the racket and that your organization was involved in any of the specific crimes named in RICO. However, authorities continue to find surprising and controversial ways to use the elements of RICO even against those who were not technically involved in crime rings.

Because of this and the far-reaching implications of RICO, it may benefit you to enlist the assistance of a South Carolina attorney who is familiar with federal racketeering laws and the potential defenses that may be available to you.