Understanding RICO Act Cases

gangster locked up in a prison smokes cigarMany Americans have no understanding of what it means to be involved in a RICO Act case outside of what they see in movies and on popular TV shows, and if you find yourself indicted or under investigation in one of these cases, that’s not going to be much help or comfort. In this post, we’ll provide some background information on what this law is, what it was intended to do, and what it means to be involved in a RICO Act case.

What Is the RICO Act?
The RICO Act is an abbreviation for the longer, more informative name of a federal law known in full as the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which is a federal law that was enacted to impose harsher penalties in the prosecution of organized crime activity and organization members. RICO was originally intended to be used against the Mafia and other organized crime families engaged in typical mob activities, but since it was enacted the RICO Act has been used to prosecute all sorts of criminal activity. This includes smaller conspiracies unrelated to any traditional organized crime family or sect, and even urban American street gangs.

RICO Act Origin and Enaction
While the more current applications of the law have put it back in the news lately, the RICO Act was actually created more than 40 years ago as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The law was the outcome of two sets of Congressional hearings that took place in the late 1950s and early 1960s, with the main focus of these meetings and the law they eventually produced on measures that would be prohibitive to illegal gambling organizations operated by organized crime families and the related activities for maintaining such a business, like money laundering and conspiracy.

Crimes and Punishments
Under the RICO Act, a person can be charged with racketeering — which includes bribery, extortion, illegal drug sales, loan sharking, murder and prostitution — if he or she has committed two of the 27 federal and eight state crimes under U.S. legislation within a 10-year period. The law gives the government the power to criminally prosecute and imprison an organized crime leader even if he or she has never personally committed any of the components of racketeering. This is because he or she is part of a criminal enterprise.  RICO sets criminal penalties for racketeering activity. Convicted persons are fined or sentenced to prison for as long as 20 years. In some cases, however, the defendant can receive a life sentence. This can occur when the violation is based on a crime for which the maximum penalty includes life imprisonment.

Basmadjian Law Group has a proven history of success in the criminal defense of federal defendants including racketeering and other RICO and organized crime charges. Contact us today for a free consultation!