Most people associate racketeering with the Mafia, gang-related activities, or other forms of violent organized crime, or they refer to “RICO,” which we will describe in detail below. Laws have changed over time to discourage organized crime and penalize its participants. Today, the government often prosecutes individuals, organizations, and government officials for financially motivated nonviolent or white-collar crimes under federal and state racketeering laws.
If you or a loved one has been charged with racketeering, you may wonder what your next steps should be. In this post, we’ll discuss the laws surrounding racketeering, the consequences of being charged with this offense, and whether you might need to hire a lawyer if you’re facing such a charge.
Racketeering is a crime that involves using coercion, fraud, threats, extortion, or other unethical tactics to force someone into giving you money, goods, or favors. It includes running, organizing, or managing an unethical business that engages in illegal activities, also referred to as a “racket.” Today, the term “racketeering” is commonly used by law enforcement to describe a variety of criminal activities, including:
- Illegal gambling.
- Drug trafficking.
- Kidnapping for a ransom.
- Human trafficking.
- Extortion or blackmail.
- Money laundering.
- Insurance fraud.
- Selling stolen goods.
What Is the Racketeering Law?
Racketeering laws exist at both the federal and state levels. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act makes racketeering a felony at the federal level. However, state racketeering laws differ regarding the charges that can be brought against a defendant. Most states, including Nevada, have adopted their own racketeering statutes. Charges brought under the RICO Act are subject to federal court jurisdiction, while prosecution of Nevada-specific racketeering violations is subject to Nevada’s court system.
Federal Racketeering Laws Under the RICO Act
Congress passed the RICO Act in 1970 with the stated goal of “eliminating the infiltration of organized crime and racketeering into legitimate organizations engaging in interstate commerce.” At its core, the RICO Act seeks to prevent criminal collaborUnder RICOprofiteering through racketeering.
Under RICO (18 U.S.C. § 1962), “it is unlawful for anyone employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.”
The RICO Act is purposely broad to include illegal activities connected to any business or enterprise that affects domestic or international commerce. It prohibits:
- Participating in or leading a business that engages in racketeering activities.
- Acquiring an interest in a racketeering organization.
- Investing the profits made through racketeering.
To bring charges under the RICO Act, the prosecution must demonstrate that there was a coordinated pattern of organized crime, that two or more offenses or crimes are connected to one another, and that the crimes were committed within a 10-year time frame. The following offenses are included in the category of racketeering:
- Drug trafficking.
- Money laundering.
Nevada Racketeering Laws
Under Nevada law (NRS 207.400), racketeering is a criminal activity carried out in the furtherance of an unlawful business. Nevada incorporates the same offenses as the federal RICO Act but also includes these additional crimes:
- Mayhem, Larceny, Forgery.
- Identity theft.
The statute also makes it illegal to engage in or profit financially from a pattern of racketeering activity through various types of participation in an enterprise. Racketeering activity is defined as “engaging in at least two crimes related to a racket or racketeering that have the same or similar pattern, intents or results, accomplices or victims, methods of commission, or are otherwise interrelated by distinguishing characteristics.” What Are the Consequences of Racketeering?he last of the incidents must have occurred within five years of a prior crime related to racketeering.
What Are the Consequences of Racketeering?
RICO Act violations are subject to fines and/or prison sentences of up to 20 years under federal law. Those found guilty of violating RICO are required to forfeit or surrender to the government any profits made from racketeering and face civil lawsuits from victims of the crime.
Racketeering is a category B felony in Nevada, punishable by two to 20 years in jail. Further penalties may include the following:
- Payment of up to $20,000 in fines.
- Forfeiture of any money, real estate, or other assets obtained through racketeering activities.
- Payment of court, investigation, and prosecution fees.
Do You Need a Lawyer If You’ve Been Charged With Racketeering?
Yes. Whether you’re facing federal RICO charges or state racketeering charges, these are significant and complex accusations with severe and potentially life-altering repercussions. Successfully defending against a RICO charge is a complicated and grueling process, even for the most skilled lawyers, due to the crimes associated with racketeering covering many complex legal areas. Don’t leave your defense up to a novice attorney.
Contact an experienced and competent defense attorney as soon as possible if you have been charged with racketeering. The ideal attorney will be knowledgeable about both Nevada and federal racketeering laws and the judicial process, as well as have the legal expertise required to negotiate successfully on your behalf.
Let De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers Defend You
If you or a loved one is facing a racketeering charge, the De Castroverde Criminal & Immigration Lawyers team is prepared to take on the case on your behalf. We have the expertise and knowledge necessary to assist you in developing an effective legal strategy to protect your rights and achieve the best outcome. Our team has represented residents of Las Vegas and the surrounding areas for over two decades. We also have several former prosecutors on our team, so we know how to successfully defend against a racketeering charge.
For a free legal case evaluation, call us at 702-827-4891 or fill out our secure online contact form.