Being charged with a RICO violation or other federal crimes is a serious matter that requires serious representation to preserve your liberty and freedom. If you are convicted of a RICO violation, the chances are good that you will face a long term in prison and a substantial fine. RICO charges at the federal level come with stiffer penalties than those brought by the state.
If you are facing a RICO charge or believe that you are under investigation and may be charged in the future, consulting with our Westmoreland County RICO violations attorney right away is important to helping you formulate the best strategy and legal defense.
What are RICO Violations?
RICO is an acronym for Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. It encompasses 35 different crimes that are viewed as racketeering activities or organized crime. This broad spectrum of crimes may include white-collar offenses like theft, bribery, gambling, embezzlement, money laundering and mail fraud. It also covers drug-related crimes, including drug trafficking and distribution, and violent offenses, such as burglary, kidnapping, arson and murder.
Penalties in RICO cases can be quite significant and life-altering, which is why RICO crimes require such aggressive and knowledgeable defense. RICO convictions come with up to 20 years in jail and fines of up to a quarter of a million dollars. Moreover, you can also face the seizure of your personal property if the government deems that the money used to buy your property (including your personal possessions) came from illegal activity under RICO. In addition, any assets that you have prior to going to trial with your case are subject to a government freeze.
It is often the case that those accused of RICO violations also face civil charges in addition to criminal charges. If someone has claims to be injured or harmed due to your alleged violation under RICO, then they can seek damages by filing a civil action. There is no limit on the amount of damages that can be sought from those convicted of RICO violations.
Racketeering Charges in Pennsylvania
While many racketeering charges are handled at the federal level, Pennsylvania’s Corrupt Organizations Act (COA) is the basis for state racketeering charges. Like RICO offenses, when the state suspects a pattern of criminal activity, they can indict a suspect on racketeering charges at the state level. Some racketeering crimes on the state level include fraud, theft, drug trafficking, loan shark activity, gambling, kidnapping and human trafficking. COA violations are first-degree felonies, punishable by up to 20 years incarceration and a fine of $25,000.
The prosecution has to prove their case against you beyond a reasonable doubt. There are many defenses to racketeering that may apply in your case, such as entrapment by federal or state investigators, or lack of evidentiary support to prove a pattern of criminal activity existed in order to bring about your charges in the first place. Working with a federal crimes attorney who understands the nuances of this type of charge is important to a successful defense and good outcome.