The RICO Act: Defending Against Racketeering Charges
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a formidable piece of federal legislation designed to combat organized criminal activities across the United States. Its primary purpose is to target and prosecute individuals involved in racketeering, aiming to dismantle criminal organizations and their ill-gotten gains.
As of the time of this article’s publication, RICO Act charges have gained notoriety in the news, with certain high-profile politicians and their attorneys finding themselves facing charges under this law. Accordingly, this illustrates how the RICO Act can apply to a broader range of criminal activity.
The RICO Act and Racketeering Offenses
The federal RICO Act is codified under Title 18, United States Code, Sections 1961-1968. Racketeering offenses under RICO encompass a wide range of illicit activities, including fraud, money laundering, bribery, and even drug trafficking. To establish racketeering, there must be a pattern of at least two criminal acts within ten years connected to the enterprise.
Specifically, Section 1962 of the RICO Act makes it illegal for “any person through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities of which affect interstate or foreign commerce.” 18 USC § 1962(a).
Additionally, California has its state law counterpart to the federal RICO Act. California’s equivalent is the California Control of Profits Organized Crime Control Act, codified under California Penal Code Sections 186-186.8. Like the federal RICO Act, California’s racketeering laws target organized criminal activities and provide law enforcement agencies and prosecutors with tools to combat and prosecute individuals involved in organized crime.
Common Legal Defenses Against RICO Charges
When faced with RICO charges, mounting a robust defense is critical to protecting one’s rights. Some potential defenses that could be effective include:
- Lack of evidence: One defense strategy involves scrutinizing the evidence presented by the prosecution, questioning its credibility, relevance, or admissibility in court. If there’s insufficient evidence connecting you to the alleged racketeering activities, it can weaken the case against you.
- Absence of intent: Arguing that there was no deliberate intention to engage in racketeering can be a potent defense. Demonstrating that you were unaware or did not knowingly participate in criminal conduct can cast doubt on your involvement.
- Mistaken identity: Proving that you were not the individual involved in the alleged criminal enterprise can be a compelling defense. Establishing a solid alibi or providing substantial evidence of an alternative identity can help clear your name.
Hiring a skilled San Diego federal crime lawyer experienced in RICO cases is paramount to building a strong defense. Such attorneys can navigate the complexities of RICO charges, assess the prosecution’s case, identify weaknesses, and tailor a defense strategy to your specific circumstances. They ensure your rights are protected, increasing the chances of a favorable outcome.
Potential Consequences of RICO Convictions
The aftermath of a RICO conviction can be severe, with long-lasting repercussions:
- Criminal sentences: RICO convictions can lead to lengthy prison sentences, substantial fines, and asset forfeiture. The penalties vary based on specific charges and the extent of involvement.
- Asset forfeiture: The government may seize assets acquired through racketeering activities, including property, funds, and other valuables.
- Long-term impact: RICO convictions can tarnish your reputation, hinder employment opportunities, and impose limitations on certain rights and privileges.
The Importance of Retaining an Experienced San Diego RICO Defense Lawyer
In the face of San Diego RICO charges, seeking experienced legal counsel is not merely a choice; it is a necessity. At jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys, our San Diego team is well-versed in navigating the complexities of RICO cases.
We are zealous advocates who relentlessly protect the rights of the English and Spanish-speaking individuals we represent.
Contact us to schedule a free consultation by calling (760) 630-2000 today.
Don’t Waste Any Time!
Call us today for a FREE Consultation