You, like many in Houston Metroplex, have likely heard the term “RICO crimes” used in association with organized crime syndicates or drug trafficking operations. Yet what does this term mean, and is it only applied to clandestine criminal organizations? To answer this question, you have to understand the exact type of crime being referred to here.
Racketeering is another word often used in the legal world yet rarely understood amongst the general population. It refers to when an organization oversees an illegal activity.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is the federal law specifically designed to combat racketeering. While this offense is still closely associated with organized crime, it also has been applied in white collar criminal cases, as well.
According to The Offices of the United States Attorneys, to be found in violation of the RICO Act, you have to first have been proven to be part of an enterprise. In this case, an enterprise does not have to be a criminal organization. It can be a company, a corporation, or any other type of legal entity. For racketeering to apply, the enterprise must be involved in some form of interstate commerce.
Once your link to the enterprise has been established, it then must be proven that you engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity. This is defined as being at least two related forms of racketeering conducted within 10 years of each other. If authorities are unable to establish a relationship between the two alleged activities that they have accused you of being linked to, then they have not proven a continuity of illegal activity, and thus the RICO statute may not apply.
If you are in need of an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Houston, contact Turnbull Legal Group today for a free consultation. 800.607.7556