As you’re reading the news headlines, you may come across one or more that says someone is facing accusations of racketeering and wonder exactly what that means. The easiest way to understand this term is to look at what’s contained in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
RICO was established in 1970 and includes a list of federal crimes that are considered racketeering. These include murder for hire, money laundering, fraud, bribery, gambling crimes, and other similar economic or financial crimes. Some state laws add other crimes to these, such as kidnapping, drug crimes, and extortion. Typically, these crimes are all committed using a business.
Racketeering can take many forms. Some businesses buy stolen goods and then sell them to people for a profit — without the consumer having any idea that the items are stolen.
Kidnapping for a ransom or forcing people to pay for protection are both forms of racketeering. In both cases, individuals may suffer harm. It’s also possible for a business to be the subject of a protection racketeering scheme.
It’s also possible for racketeering to occur online. This is often done using malware with a demand for money to rectify the situation. RICO charges, which were once reserved for organized crime, are much more broadly applied in this era.
Whether you’re facing charges at the federal level or the state level, you need to ensure that you start on your defense strategy quickly. These cases are often associated with considerable evidence, so you need to consider all your options. Once you know what’s possible, you should make decisions based on what you feel is best for your interests now and in the future.
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