Crime Overview Racketeering RICO

More than 1.4 million violent crimes are reported in the United States each year. Did you also know that there were approximately 12,658 murders, 9,983,568 crimes involving property, and roughly 447,403 robberies across the United States in 2006 alone? Because racketeering typically involves intimidation through violent acts, it can be classified along with America's 1.4 million violent crimes for 2006. Bribery and fraud are also considered to be a part of racketeering.

So what exactly is racketeering? It is defined as "the manipulation of a labor force, which affects all industries and businesses related to that labor group" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The term "racketeering" was coined by the Employers' Association of Chicago in 1927, and refers to making money from illegal activities that involve bribery, fraud, and intimidation. Put more simply, racketeering involves an arranged group that operates a business or a scheme that is profitable, yet illegal. Legitimate businesses or labor unions can also engage in racketeering, in which case it falls under the category of white-collar crime. Money laundering and extortion are two forms of white-collar racketeering. There is also a form of racketeering called a numbers racket, which is a lottery that is illegal.

Racketeering and conspiracy to commit racketeering are first degree felonies, punishable by a maximum of 30 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

RICO stands for the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, and it is a U.S. federal law that provides lengthened criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts implemented as part of a continuing criminal organization. When it was enacted in 1970, it was intended to address the prosecution of the mafia as well as other organized crimes, but it has become more widespread. It also makes a profit illegal for any illegitimate organizations that engage in authorized business operations. A racketeer has to relinquish all illegal gains and interest in any business that has been achieved through an arrangement of "racketeering activity." In order to be charged with racketeering, a person has to have committed two out of 27 federal crimes, and eight state crimes, within a time span of 10 years. It also allows for an individual who has been damaged in any way by the actions of a guilty organization to file a civil suit and allows for the possibility to collect treble damages.

One measure of RICO's success is its indictment or sanctioning of those who have perpetrated vengeance or retribution against witness for cooperating with law enforcement agencies. Other countries have also adopted laws that are equivalent to the RICO laws, such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada. Out of all the RICO cases that have gone to trial in the United States, approximately 50% of them had a non-U.S. enforcement factor to them, which shows how it would be difficult to enforce RICO without similar laws on the books in other nations.

Some famous racketeering cases in the past have involved the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club (acquitted), Frank Tieri the Genovese crime family boss (convicted), Key West Police Department (convicted), financier Michael Milken (convicted), Major League Baseball (sent to arbitration), the Latin Kings gang (ongoing trial), and the Gambino crime family (convicted).

If you have been accused of racketeering, whether you are guilty or not, you should hire a criminal lawyer or attorney to help you with your case. If you are suing a convicted racketeer for damages resulting from the crime, you will need to hire a civil lawyer or attorney. Even if the person was not convicted and you feel they should have been, and you want to sue them for damages, you should hire a civil lawyer or attorney. Criminal lawyers and attorneys represent individuals who have been charged with crimes by arguing their cases in courts of law. A criminal lawyer or attorney will typically have a private practice concentrating on criminal law.

If you have been arrested for racketeering, you should request an attorney or contact a private criminal lawyer or attorney immediately. There are many things to look for when hiring a criminal lawyer or attorney. A good criminal attorney will be familiar with important racketeering laws of the state in which the crime took place, because many criminal law rules are hidden away in court interpretations of federal and state constitutions.

If you are ready to contact a criminal lawyer or attorney to help you with your case, visit the American Bar Association. The ABA offers free access to their lawyer locater, which can help you search for a criminal lawyer or attorney in your area.

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