RICO stands for the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act.  The act was passed by Congress with the intent to stop people from engaging in a pattern of criminal activity.

RICO was originally applied primarily to organized crime, providing a way for the federal government to convict mobsters or gangsters for being a part of organized crime when they were unable to convict the defendants of specific crimes carried out by the mafia groups that they were a part of.

RICO and other laws criminalizing organized crime are a very complicated area of law that is very vague and ambiguous, so it is often left up to the courts to interpret what exactly the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act is supposed to mean.

What Is Racketeering?

The term racketeering refers generally to a criminal who uses extortion, loan sharking, bribery, or obstruction of justice to further their illegal activities. Normally, a person that is guilty of racketeering uses some sort of authority or power to illegally persuade others to further his/her interests.

Who Can Be Charged with a RICO Violation?

There are several requirements that a defendant must meet in order to be charged with violating RICO, including:

  • The person must be employed or associated with a criminal enterprise
  • The person’s activities must affect interstate commerce
    • Just about anything affects interstate commerce: if you use the telephone, internet, railroad, highways, waterways or mail you are using some kind of interstate commerce
  • The person charged must have participated with the organization through a pattern or racketeering activity
    • They look at whether this persons actions have the same or similar purpose, results, participants, victims and methods
  • The statute of limitations (when you can bring a lawsuit) for prosecuting a RICO violation is 5 years for criminal prosecution and 4 years for civil prosecution

Accused of a RICO Violation?

If you have been accused of a RICO violation, you should speak to a criminal law attorney to learn more about your rights, your defenses and the complicated legal system.

Victim of a RICO Violation?

If you are a victim of a RICO violation, you should call the police. If there is sufficient evidence, the police will then forward your case to the Attorney General’s office to prosecute the person or organization that committed the RICO Violation against you.