Most often when a person commits a crime, they are prosecuted in the state in which the offense took place and under state law. However, there are numerous crimes that fall under federal legislation and/or federal jurisdiction. Those crimes would be prosecuted under federal law and in federal court. And potentially, a person could be prosecuted for his/her crimes under BOTH state and federal law.
Federal crimes include those offenses which are governed by a federal government agency such as the US Postal Service (USPS) or the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), crimes occurring on federal property, and crimes involving interstate commerce – those that cross state lines.
Then, there is specific legislation that the US government enacts to gain a foothold on a large problem. That would be legislation like the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act or RICO.
RICO is a U.S. Federal law that extends criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. If you are found guilty of a crime or crimes under RICO, the penalties are some of the most severe of any crimes.
If you suspect that you may be charged with crimes under RICO, it is extremely important that you contact an aggressive criminal attorney – one who is experienced in both state and federal court.
RICO crime charges do not mean that you are guilty. You have the right to fight back and defend your liberties to avoid a conviction.
Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney Christopher P. Thomas can help you get started by answering your questions and providing a free legal evaluation.
Our Pittsburgh Criminal Lawyers have over a decade of experience in successfully fighting for people who have been accused of RICO crimes. He will listen to your story and offer options for you to make the best decision about how to fight back against RICO crime charges.
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RICO is part of the U.S. federal government’s Organized Crime Act of 1970. The purpose of RICO was to give prosecutors some teeth when going up against organized crime. A racket is just another way to describe a criminal organization – or group that commits crimes as a means of conducting regular business. Anyone participating in a racket can be charged with racketeering. Prior to the passage of RICO, it was very difficult to prosecute the leaders, or most important members, of organized crime units.
The targets of RICO are generally groups of people working together to profit from criminal activity. It could be a criminal gang, the mob, a drug cartel, or a money laundering operation. In more recent years, RICO has been used to prosecute groups working in the financial sector and profiting off of numerous white collar crimes.
A list of thirty-five (35) crimes; twenty-seven (27) federal crimes and eight (8) state crimes all fall under the umbrella of RICO. A person who is charged and found guilty of committing at least two (2) criminal acts of racketeering within a ten (10) year period can be charged under RICO if those criminal acts are related to a criminal organization. It is not limited to the person who committed the actual crimes – it extends to those who ordered or assisted others in the commission of the crimes.
A criminal organization can often involve various criminal activities in their daily operation. Some of the most common crimes involving RICO include:
If prosecutors are able to charge you with any two crimes in a ten year period as part of a criminal organization, you will likely be prosecuted under RICO. These crimes can involve the DEA, the FBI and/or the IRS. With seemingly unlimited resources at their disposal, the need for quality representation becomes apparent.
Federal prosecutors are able to freeze any assets of the criminal organization while waiting for the case to go to trial. This also means they can seize any business or personal property that they believe is involved in, or obtained in connection with, the criminal activity. Of course, they must file an injunction with the court and the freezing or seizure must be approved by a judge, but it is possible to have your access to your assets taken from you. Asset seizure can make all the difference when funding your defense.
You must protect your rights, and your assets, by hiring a reputable and experienced attorney to represent all of your interests – both personal and financial. They can advise you on how best to fight the serious charges and protect your freedom and your property.
If you are convicted under RICO you will face extremely harsh penalties. A single act of racketeering can land you in prison for up to twenty (20) years and fines of up to $25,000. This does not include the personal hit you could take as you will be forced to forfeit all ill-gotten gains and any interest in any business you gained as part of the crimes committed.
Further, the government does not stop criminal penalties. For any person who has been harmed or injured by a RICO crime, a civil suit can be filed. Therefore, if someone can prove that your RICO crime(s) harmed them in some way, you can be on the hook for large sums of money in a civil lawsuit.
There is a four year statute of limitations by which a person must file their civil claim. But this is important when hiring an attorney – you will need a well-versed RICO lawyer who is capable of fighting both criminal and civil charges on your behalf. The legal team at SMT Legal is experienced in both areas.
When your reputation, future and freedom are on the line, you need an experienced attorney to aggressively defend your rights. Our experienced Pittsburgh Criminal Attorneys will thoroughly investigate your case, gather all evidence and closely examine all police reports, witness testimony, and documents pertinent to your arrest.
We work to significantly increase your chances of having your charges reduced or withdrawn by building a strong defense strategy. In a RICO case, prosecutors will need to prove that the crimes you are charged with directly correlate to the advancement of a criminal organization. This can be very difficult to prove and we will work vehemently to craft a solid defense and combat any weak evidence. We will make sure we get answers to all questions to aid in proving your innocence as well as search for any holes in the prosecution’s case.
Our attorneys have experience in both state and federal court and are skillful in handling complex criminal cases.
A great attorney not only understands the court system but also has compassion for the clients’ situation. That compassion has the capacity to carry over when it is time for hearings and sentencing, negotiating with prosecutors, and arguing your case before a judge.
Pittsburgh Criminal Attorney Christopher Thomas is a skilled and compassionate attorney who will fight for your liberties.
Call 412-765-3345 for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys are available by phone, email or in-person.
SMT Legal attorneys believe in aggressively representing our clients while maintaining the personal compassion needed when counseling clients through difficult situations and navigating a complex legal system. Contact us today.