Racketeering, broadly defined, is the operation of an illegal business (racket). This usually involves organized crime.
Criminal rackets may include the importation and sale of illegal drugs, prostitution rings, gambling, and other activities associated with money laundering or bribery. "Protection rackets" involve some criminal organization extorting money from businesses for “protection” against crimes, which would be committed by the criminal organization itself.
Under federal law, racketeering is covered by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This law is so broad in scope that almost any criminal who commits multiple crimes can be charged under it. The law lists 35 crimes (murder, illegal gambling, drug dealing, kidnapping, etc.). Any person or group who commits 2 of those crimes in a 10 year period with the same purpose or effect, in a way that affects interstate commerce, can be charged with racketeering.
Criminal: Under RICO, any person who is found guilty of racketeering can get up to 20 years in prison and/or up to $25,000 in fines. Furthermore, any money or property used to commit the crimes, or gained from them, is forfeited to the government.
Civil: RICO also allows for individuals or businesses harmed by racketeering to sue for compensation. In this case, a plaintiff must prove the existence of a criminal enterprise, and some relationship between the enterprise and the defendant. The law allows anyone injured to recover 3 times the amount of actual damages suffered. So, if a criminal enterprise causes $1,000 in harm, the person harmed can recover $3,000 against them.
Involvment in any sort of organized crime can lead to serious criminal charges. By consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney, you can understand your rights and develop defenses for your case.
Last Modified: 04-05-2018 06:56 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.