RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations. It is a federal law that punishes individuals and groups who commit multiple crimes across state lines over a ten year period.
RICO charges are commonly associated with the mafia, but these charges can be used against any group who meets the requirements of the law, which means generally means they knowingly participated in a fraudulent scheme.
RICO is a complicated charge that can result in serious penalties and jail time. If you have been charged with racketeering under RICO in Nevada, hiring a qualified and experienced defense lawyer in Las Vegas is the best way to defend yourself.
LV Criminal Defense has provided representation to many defendants facing RICO charges and we can put our legal knowledge of these difficult cases to work for you.
RICO is a racketeering law that requires the prosecutor to show two or more of the following crimes took place in a ten year period:
The crimes that a prosecutor uses to bring a RICO charge must be related to one another and not separate crimes committed during the ten year time frame. The offenses that give rise to RICO charges are called “predicate crimes.”
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It is important to note that under federal law, even the attempt commit these crimes can be enough for a RICO charge. This means if a defendant attempts to commit two or more murders, kidnappings, robberies, or other predicate crimes but is unsuccessful at committing either offense, the defendant could still be convicted.
Many defendants who are facing RICO charges will be charged by the federal government. The case will take place in federal court, and conviction can result in a defendant being sent to federal prison.
However, the state of Nevada also has racketeering laws, and Las Vegas will impose penalties upon defendants under state law for becoming part of a group that commits, or attempts to commit, predicate offenses.
There is an important difference between Nevada’s laws on racketeering compared with federal RICO laws. Nevada’s racketeering statute uses a five year time period instead of the ten year period used by federal law. This means a prosecutor cannot secure a conviction unless the unlawful behavior occurred in a much shorter time frame.
A defendant can be convicted of racketeering even if the defendant does not specifically commit two or more predicate offenses on his own. Any involvement with a group or organization that exists to facilitate the commission of these crimes can result in criminal charges.
In fact, the law is clear that a defendant can be convicted of racketeering for involvement in one or all of the following activities:
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The penalties for racketeering vary based on whether you face federal or state charges, as well as based on other key factors related to RICO charges.
Nevada state law provides penalties of 5 to 20 years in a Nevada prison and $25,000 in fines for each charge.
Sentences for state and federal RICO charges also depend on the related crimes. For example, if the two interrelated crimes which occurred in a ten year period are murders, life imprisonment without the possibility of parole could be the sentence for racketeering.
Any defendant who is convicted of racketeering will also be required to make restitution to the victim, regardless of whether the defendant is convicted under state law or is convicted under federal law.
RICO is a difficult crime for a prosecutor to prove because it requires the state to show that the crimes were committed for the same purpose or as part of the same scheme. Prosecutors may have difficulty establishing the pattern that connects disparate offenses, especially if the offenses occurred over a long period of time.
Defendants can attempt to make it impossible for a prosecutor to prove all of the elements of a RICO crime, and if they can introduce reasonable doubt about any element of racketeering charges, they should be acquitted of all charges. One common defense involves arguing the prosecutor failed to prove that past offenses were connected. If the predicate crimes are not related, this is a defense to RICO charges.
RICO often requires a lot of evidence collected over time by federal law enforcement agencies. This means that there are many opportunities for law enforcement to illegally find or seize evidence in your case. Evidence that is not discovered legally should be thrown out of the case, or suppressed, by a good criminal defense lawyer. Evidence that is thrown out makes the case more difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.
LV Criminal Defense can provide you with representation as you develop a legal strategy to respond to RICO charges. We can help you to introduce reasonable doubt as to your guilt, to argue for evidence to be suppressed, or to raise affirmative defenses.
We can also provide you with advice on negotiating a plea agreement or on taking steps to get charges reduced or dropped by providing evidence to the government. To find out more about how our firm can help you, give us a call today.