Most people conduct their business above board. Yet, the lure of easy money can cause otherwise upstanding folks to engage in shady dealings. Through no fault of your own, you may have found yourself involved in a scheme and are now facing federal racketeering charges. These charges can be confusing, since they can apply to a wide variety of illegal operations. Yet, they are serious, and it’s crucial that you understand their implications and consequences.
Racketeering refers to any organized criminal activity that aims to provide gain or income to its participants. The term does not describe a single crime but provides guidelines for prosecuting a wide variety of illegal commerce. The activities these enterprises may engage in range from gambling to bribery to drug trafficking.
While state courts can prosecute racketeering crimes, Missouri has no racketeering statutes. Your case, then, will go to federal court for trial. The U.S. Department of Justice follows five criteria when ruling on racketeering cases. These criteria are part of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), which outlines penalties for acts of organized crime. Under RICO, your actions will qualify as racketeering if:
- A racket existed
- The racket involved illegal interstate commerce
- You worked for or were associated with the racket
- You demonstrated a pattern of racketeering
- You participated in at least two acts of racketeering
Penalties for racketeering
A racketeering conviction can carry significant consequences, depending on your case’s circumstances. Possible penalties can include a prison sentence of 20 years for each racketeering count you face. You could pay a fine of up to $25,000 as well. And you will also have to forfeit any gains you received from racketeering activities.
Because federal racketeering charges carry such serious weight, you will not want to work through yours alone. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the complexities of your case. And they can provide you an aggressive defense against the government’s charges.