18 U.S.C. § 1961: RICO Act Overview
The Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO” Act) is a federal law enacted by Congress to criminalize organized crime and the engagement in an ongoing pattern of racketeering activity. The RICO Act was originally established to prosecute Mafia activity, but today it is often used as a tool to investigate white-collar criminal activity in business organizations, corporations, and political groups. The RICO Act casts a wide net entrapping various criminal acts including gambling, murder, kidnap, extortion, arson, robbery, drug trafficking, fraud, and copyright infringement, to name a few. It most frequently arises in cases of mail and wire fraud. It requires that the leaders of organized crimes be charged and tried with the same criminal acts that they ordered others to perform.
What is Racketeering Activity?
Under 18 U.S.C. §1961, racketeering activity is comprised of an extensive list of thirty-five criminal acts. Although this list is not exhaustive, racketeering activity includes criminal acts such as: gambling, murder, kidnap, extortion, arson, robbery, bribery, drug trafficking, counterfeiting, theft, embezzlement, fraud, obstruction of justice, slavery, money laundering, commission of murder-for-hire, bankruptcy fraud or securities fraud, criminal copyright infringement, aiding or assisting aliens in illegally entering the country for financial gain, and acts of terrorism.
Who can be charged with a RICO Violation?
Although its original application was to target Mafia leaders, today, the RICO Act can be used against an individual person as well as an enterprise, such as a partnership, corporation, association, union, legal entity, or individuals associated in fact. Today, the commonplace RICO defendant is the CEO of a corporation, controlling shareholder of a corporation, trustee, or the leader figure of a political group.
What if I have been indicted under the RICO Act?
If you have committed at least two acts of racketeering activity within 10 years, you can be charged with racketeering. If found guilty under the RICO Act, you could be charged with fines of up to $25,000, and a prison sentence for up to 20 years. You will likely face a life sentence if one of the racketeering activities you were convicted of is punishable by life in prison. If found guilty, you will also have to surrender any gains or business interests acquired through engaging in the racketeering activity.
Why is a RICO Indictment Burdensome?
RICO indictments allow for the government to issue a pre-trial restraining order or injunction against the defendant. This permits the government to seize a defendant’s assets and require that the defendant put forth a performance bond. A performance bond ascertains that the defendant has assets to seize, and that the defendant will pay if found guilty. Further, a RICO indictment can force a defendant to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Appealing a RICO Act Indictment: What Must the Prosecution Prove?
The RICO Act casts a wide reaching net and captures various criminal acts that classify as racketeering acts. The RICO Act does not reach the substance of the criminal acts themselves, but acts as a conduit for prosecuting the activity.
The prosecution must prove that you have committed at least two acts of racketeering activity within a 10-year period. The second racketeering act must have occurred within 10 years of the first racketeering act. This 10-year period does not include periods of imprisonment. The acts must also be related in nature by sharing similar purposes, results, participants, victims, or methods of commission.
Filing a federal criminal appeal for a RICO Act violation can be a lengthy and complex process. RICO Act indictments often involve defendants who have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and had their assets seized, placing the defendant in a precarious position to seek legal counsel. When facing harsh punishment such as a seizure of assets, substantial fines, and potentially a lifetime of incarceration, it becomes all the more important to consult with a skilled federal criminal appeals attorney who will walk you through your best options to proceed. I keep an open forum of communication with my clients and make sure they feel engaged in the progress of their federal criminal appeal.
If you have been convicted of a RICO indictment or are under investigation under the RICO Act, and want to appeal your case to federal court, give our office a call for a free consultation. We will sit down and discuss the details of your case and guide you with the next suitable steps available for your federal appeal.
Federal Criminal Appeals: Appealing a RICO Act Conviction
Have you been convicted of a RICO Act violation are now facing serious penalties such as jail time and heavy fines? Don’t lose faith. You can seek relief by appealing your RICO Act conviction. Our experienced federal criminal attorneys will take the reins of your federal criminal appeal so that you can rest assured that your appeal in is the hands of experts who thoroughly understand the complexities of a federal criminal appeal.
For a free consultation to discuss the details of your RICO Act conviction and options for a federal criminal appeal, call 1-800-APPEALS.
Our federal criminal appeals attorneys are admitted into all Federal Circuit Courts throughout the United States as well as the United States Supreme Court. Federal criminal conviction appeals, especially RICO Act conviction appeals, should not be handled by just any lawyer. There are strict deadlines and meticulous procedural rules with which one must comply, and our federal criminal appeals attorneys have years of experience navigating the roads to a successful appeal.
The first step to appealing a RICO Act conviction is to file the Notice of Appeal within 30 days of your sentencing. Then, our federal criminal appeals lawyers will scrutinize the facts and decision of the trial and sentencing court records for legal errors. After identifying appealable issues, our federal criminal appeals attorneys craft well-organized and well-reasoned arguments. These arguments are channeled through a persuasive and concise appellate brief, which is submitted to and filed with the Circuit Court of Appeals. Appealing a RICO Act conviction is not easy, but our federal criminal appeals attorneys have the skills and expertise it takes to win a federal criminal appeal. Don’t hesitate to take action. Call 1-800-APPEALS today.