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What is a RICO violation?

On Behalf of | Jan 3, 2020 | Criminal defense |

If federal prosecutors in Virginia charge you with allegedly committing a RICO violation, you need to immediately seek the advice and counsel of an attorney experienced in defending against federal charges. You also need to immediately determine exactly which RICO violation(s) prosecutors allege you committed. 

As the Department of Justice explains, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, a/k/a RICO, in 1970 to give federal officials greater powers when prosecuting alleged Mafia members. Over the decades, however, the government has used RICO to prosecute anyone alleged of committing any of the following specific crimes: 

  • Embezzlement 
  • Money laundering 
  • Bribery 
  • Counterfeiting 
  • Mail fraud 

Necessary proof 

In order to convict you of any RICO violation, the prosecutor will have to prove all of the following: 

  • The existence of an enterprise 
  • Your affiliation with that enterprise 
  • The commission by you and the enterprise of one or more predicates; i.e., illegal acts that involved interstate commerce 
  • The fact that the predicate(s) represented a pattern of racketeering 

Defining enterprise and racketeering 

Under RICO, an enterprise need not consist of an organization such as a corporation or other formal entity. Nor did the enterprise need to formally employ you. The prosecutor must prove only the existence of some type of an association with which you affiliated. 

As for proving a racketeering pattern, the prosecutor can do this in one of two ways. If (s)he can prove that you and the enterprise committed two predicates within a decade, this constitutes a closed-end racketeering pattern. If (s)he can prove that you and the enterprise committed only one predicate, but that its nature strongly implied that you would commit additional predicates in the future, this constitutes an open-ended racketeering pattern. 

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.