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An explanation of RICO

On Behalf of | Jan 14, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act in 1978. The government must prove at least five different things to find an individual guilty of federal racketeering. This federal law applies to everyone living in South Carolina and throughout the country.

Enterprise existed

The government must prove that it was an organized group tied together, even loosely, that committed an illegal activity. While it is easy to think of the mob as guilty of racketeering, groups blocking entrances to abortion clinics have also been found guilty of racketeering charges.

Affected interstate commerce

In order to be found guilty of federal racketeering charges, activities must cross state lines. Many states have passed state laws prohibiting racketeering within the state’s boundaries. A criminal defense attorney may help you understand if you are being charged under federal or state laws.


The government must prove that there is a tie between the individual and the organization. This is one area where you can be guilty by association.


If you made a mistake and did something once, then the prosecution can come after you for some other charge but not for racketeering. The government must prove that you did the activity regularly. You must have committed the action at least twice within 10 years.

Specific activity

The government must also prove that the enterprise participated in a specific set of illegal activities. Some of these include:

  • Bribery
  • Counterfeiting
  • Theft by interstate shipments
  • Embezzlement of pension or welfare funds
  • Transmission of gambling information
  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud

If the government has charged you with racketeering, then you may want to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer may help you understand the details of this law and your available options for defense.