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RICO Is About More Than Just Gangs and Mobsters

When you hear the phrase “organized crime,” you probably think about famous mobsters from movies and TV. Media portrayals of organized crime involve wealthy crime bosses deriving their profits from the illegal sale of guns or weapons and then going to great lengths to make it look like their wealth comes from the proceeds of legitimate businesses.

The Racketeer Influenced Criminal Organization (RICO) Act of 1970 was designed to curb the activities of organized crime enterprises, but the concept of racketeering is much older. Centuries ago, a racketeer was someone who created a noisy commotion, in other words, a racket, on a crowded street, to distract people so that his accomplices could steal people's wallets without them noticing. In other words, a racketeer was a co-conspirator with pickpockets who were contributing to the crime of theft without actually stealing anything himself.

You might be surprised to find out that prosecutors can apply the RICO act in a much wider variety of cases, including many that have nothing whatsoever to do with money laundering or pickpocketing.

If you got arrested for something that seems like an isolated incident and are puzzled about why the officer kept talking about the RICO Act, contact a Texas white-collar crime lawyer at the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, immediately.

The Rationale Behind RICO

Imagine that, in the above example, a racketeer creates a distraction, and five pickpockets steal wallets. The police arrest five people and charge them with theft. They get convicted and serve their sentences, but by the same time the following year, each of them has been arrested for theft again. The idea behind the RICO act is that offenses such as drug possession with intent to deliver, theft, prostitution, and illegal possession of weapons can be just small parts of a larger crime, one that involves multiple people and a long-term plan.

Therefore, charges of

What the Prosecution Must Prove in a RICO Case

Getting criminal charges for theft on two separate occasions does not, by itself, constitute a RICO Act violation. In order to convict a defendant of a RICO Act violation, the prosecution must prove five things:

  • A group of people were or are participating in criminal activity
  • The defendant was a participant in this group
  • The defendant committed acts related to the criminal enterprise (such as theft, illegal gambling, or prostitution) on at least two occasions in a ten-year period
  • The defendant's actions form a pattern of criminal activity
  • ​A person or company suffered financial losses because of the activities of the criminal enterprise

If your criminal defense lawyer can cast reasonable doubt on at least one of those claims, then you cannot be convicted of RICO Act violations.

Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, About Financial Crime Defense Cases

You should hire a Dallas, TX, criminal defense lawyer to represent you if you are facing charges for RICO Act violations. Contact the Law Office of Patrick J. McLain, PLLC, to discuss your case today.

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