The Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Act, also called RICO, allows for the prosecution of members of criminal groups who engage in racketeering activities. In this article, we’ll explain the Racketeer Influenced And Corrupt Organization Act and how it works in criminal and civil courts.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a federal law intended to fight organized crime in the United States. This law has been used to prosecute members of criminal groups such as the Hells Angels, Operation Rescue, the Mafia, street gangs, cartels, and more. Passed in 1970, RICO allows for the prosecution of civil penalties for racketeering activity related to an ongoing criminal enterprise.
There are 35 offenses defined by the law as racketeering, including:
In order to convict a defendant under RICO, the federal government must prove that he or she engaged in at least two instances of racketeering activity within ten years and directly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate or foreign commerce. Any of the following can qualify as an enterprise:
Criminals charged under RICO can be sentenced to prison terms of 20 years and severe financial penalties.
In addition to its criminal component, there is also a civil component to RICO that allows anybody who has been injured by a RICO violation to bring a civil suit and receive treble damages, up to three times actual or compensatory damages.
To successfully make a RICO claim in a civil lawsuit, a plaintiff must be able to demonstrate:
People believing they may have a civil or criminal RICO case are highly recommended to work with experienced lawyers, as the law is highly complex. An attorney can help you determine whether or not you have a case to make, which is important because RICO suits can be quite costly.