Los Angeles Racketeering Defense Attorney
What is Racketeering?
Racketeering is a federal crime governed by the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (also referred to as “RICO”). RICO is aimed at criminal enterprises with a pattern and practice of engaging in unlawful activity. An “enterprise” for purposes of RICO may include any group of people.
RICO was originally enacted to address organized crime. However, the Act is now generally used to target other types of organizations that primarily earn money through criminal activity, such as gangs. It is also frequently applied to otherwise legitimate organizations that engage in corrupt or criminal activity, such as financial investment groups. By bringing charges under RICO, the federal government can penalize everyone involved in a criminal enterprise for the actions taken by any individual member on behalf of the enterprise.
There are 35 federal and/or state crimes that qualify for prosecution under RICO, including:
- Violent felony crimes such as murder, kidnapping, or robbery;
- Felony drug crimes including manufacturing and trafficking;
- White-collar felonies including fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement, or money laundering;
- Sale or distribution of obscene material, such as child pornography; AND
- Gambling, bribery or extortion.
You may be charged under RICO if the enterprise committed two or more of these crimes within 10 years, showing a pattern of criminal activity. For example, fraudulently obtaining money and then subsequently engaging in money laundering to conceal the source of the funds may be grounds for RICO charges.
RICO cases can be complex and lengthy, particularly when they involve numerous criminal offenses and defendants. It is crucial that you hire a skilled Los Angeles racketeering defense attorney like The Law Offices of Adrian M. Baca, which has experience helping clients navigate federal government investigations.
Penalties for Racketeering
If you are convicted under RICO, you could face harsh criminal penalties, including 20 years in federal prison, as well as fines up to $250,000 or twice the amount of the proceeds of the crime.
You may also be subject to additional “civil” penalties (which are penalties imposed through a civil, rather than a criminal, action). These penalties include forfeiture of your personal assets, which means that you and your family may be required to turn over cash or property to the government, whether your assets were obtained legally or illegally.
Defenses to Racketeering Charges
To convict you of racketeering under RICO, the federal government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- You were associated with an enterprise that demonstrated a pattern of criminal activity consisting of at least two criminal acts covered under RICO within a period of 10 years; AND
- The crimes committed are related and involve common methods or victims.
If the government cannot make this case, you are not guilty of racketeering.
There are many potential defenses against RICO charges, depending on the circumstances of your individual case. Some common defenses include:
- The enterprise did not commit any of the crimes covered by RICO.
- The crimes were not related and do not show a pattern of criminal activity.
- You were not a part of a criminal enterprise (either because no criminal enterprise existed or because you were not associated with it).
- The evidence used against you was obtained through an illegal search and seizure.
How Can a Los Angeles Racketeering Defense Attorney Help Me?
Individuals or organizations who are facing racketeering charges may be subject to lengthy prison sentences and hefty fines and could even lose their business or personal assets. Early intervention by a knowledgeable and experienced Los Angeles racketeering defense attorney may be the difference between these serious consequences and carrying on with your normal life. Contact The Law Offices of Adrian M. Baca today if you believe you may be the target of a racketeering investigation. We can review your case and help you explore all available options.