Federal lawmakers signed the Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions Act (RICO Act) into law in 1978. Many states have enacted similar laws since that time. You may find yourself facing RICO charges if you band together with others to set up a business aimed at embezzling or extorting money from either public or private institutions. You may find it helpful to understand the burden of proof that prosecutors have if they’ve levied such charges against you.
Members of the mob were once successful in infiltrating labor unions and stealing members’ pensions before law enforcement discovered what occurred. Prosecutors were successful in ultimately prosecuting some of them on RICO charges.
Individuals who come together to take advantage of others as part of gambling, prostitution, counterfeiting and drug trafficking rings may also face RICO charges in conjunction with other alleged crimes.
Prosecutors have even filed RICO charges against defendants not engaged in organized crime in recent years. They’ve prosecuted Catholic bishops who turned a blind eye to priest’s sex abuse scandals and anti-abortion protestors who blocked individuals’ access to clinics for such crimes as well.
Prosecutors generally found it easy to secure convictions of low-level crime ring members in the years before federal prosecutors enacted the RICO Act. They weren’t as successful in landing the high-level “bosses,” though.
The passing of the RICO Act in 1978 made it where prosecutors didn’t have to prove that a defendant actively participated in committing any of the alleged illegal offenses. The passing of this law only required prosecutors to prove that a defendant either managed or owned an organization that regularly engaged in unlawful activities to meet their burden of proof.
Government agencies don’t often respond well to the existence of crime rings. They know that there’s power in the masses and how criminal elements of the sort can quickly bring them down if they don’t stop them in their tracks early.
The likelihood is that you’re facing some pretty severe penalties if New York prosecutors have filed RICO charges against you. An attorney who defends those accused of federal offenses can guide the steps you might want to take when the stakes are so high in your Manhattan case.
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