Racketeering is a term used for criminal acts that involve things like extortion and that involve a “racket.” In this way, the racket is a scheme you organize to make a profit illegally.
Usually, this charge describes patterns of illegal activity outlined in the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO).
Crimes that may lead to criminal racketeering charges
RICO is a federal law in the U.S. that makes it illegal to control or acquire a business through specific crimes or make an income from those crimes. It’s also illegal for you to participate in some crimes, directly or indirectly, by a business or to conspire to do any of this.
Federal crimes that are included in the RICO law include:
- Economic and financial crimes
- Obstructing a criminal investigation or justice
- Money laundering
- Gambling offenses
- Murder for hire
On the state level, racketeering may also include crimes like dealing in obscene matters, kidnapping, drug crimes, robbery, arson, murder, extortion and bribery. This is the case if the crime meets the generic definition of the state offense created when RICO was first enacted.
Potential penalties for racketeering crimes
If you are convicted of a RICO crime mentioned above, you will receive a prison sentence of at least 20 years. The prison sentence will likely be longer if you commit a more serious crime. You will also be assessed penalties and fines in most cases.
Protecting your rights when facing racketeering charges
If you are accused of, being investigated for or charged with racketeering, it’s important to know your legal rights. Building a strong defense with help is highly recommended since these charges often carry serious and long prison sentences and other consequences.