RICO crimes are those that fall under the umbrella of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act — also known as RICO. This act was implemented back in 1970, when it went into effect. The goal was to crack down on organized crime.
As such, these crimes are only brought up in very specific cases in which a level of planning and organization is clear. Minor crimes, even in the same vein, will typically not qualify. As noted by the U.S. Justice Department, it is illegal for people or organizations to engage in “racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.”
What is racketeering?
Racketeering often focuses on financial gain and extortion. Historically in the United States, it has been connected with the Mafia and other types of organized crime. Some have described it as solving a problem that the organization also created, such as threatening area businesses and then forcing owners to pay for “protection” from these same threats.
Other issues that have been connected to racketeering include:
- Illegal lotteries
- Mob wars and violent conflicts
- Insider trading
- Securities fraud
- Stock manipulation
These last three, in particular, are issues that may occur even without the traditional crime syndicate, like the Mafia. A person acting alone can still face racketeering charges. One of the most famous cases of this happened in 1989 and involved fraud in the stock market.
One goal of the RICO Act was to make it easier for the authorities to bring charges against those who were in charge of criminal organizations. This had traditionally been difficult, as leaders would have someone else carry out the actual crime. That person could get arrested, but the person who ordered it would not. They didn’t technically break the law. Under the new act, though, the authorities found new power to charges those giving the orders, not just those carrying out those orders, thus working in a new way against organized crime.
Are you facing charges?
As you can imagine, RICO charges are incredibly complicated. If you’re facing these charges, you must know what legal steps to take. This type of case could have a drastic impact on the rest of your life.