What is a RICO violation?

| Jul 23, 2019 | Federal Crimes

A RICO violation represents one of many federal white collar crimes with which you can be charged in Arkansas. But what exactly is a RICO violation and what proof does the prosecutor need in order to convict you?

The Department of Justice explains that the acronym RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, the federal legislation passed in 1970 to combat racketeering by the Mafia. Since that time, however, the feds have used RICO to prosecute those suspected of a variety of crimes including the following:

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

RICO elements of proof

To convict you of a RICO violation, the prosecutor must prove these five things:

  1. That the violation involved an enterprise
  2. That you were part of that enterprise
  3. That the enterprise and you performed illegal acts (predicates) affecting interstate commerce
  4. That two such predicates occurred within 10 years of each other
  5. That the predicates amounted to a racketeering pattern

Enterprise definition

Unlike a corporation or other formal business that you usually think of as an enterprise, for RICO purposes an enterprise can be virtually any type of an organization, either formal or informal. Nor do or did you need to be an employee of this enterprise. Any association, either formal or informal, you have or had with it is sufficient.

Racketeering pattern definition

If the prosecutor can prove that the enterprise and you committed two predicates in a decade, this represents the proof necessary to establish a closed-ended racketeering pattern. If (s)he can prove only one predicate, however, but the strong likelihood that you and the enterprise would commit another one in the future, this represents the proof necessary to establish an open-ended racketeering pattern.

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