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Federal Racketeering (RICO) Charges

Racketeering or federal charges of illegal control of an enterprise is a serious charge that occurs when an individual relies on a series of illegal activities to gain an unfair advantage within a business. It is a federal crime that is perhaps most famous due to mobsters infiltrating businesses through their illegal practices. As a result, in 1970, the Federal Government created RICO, which is an acronym for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Today, however, the RICO act extends far beyond mobsters racketeering within businesses such as casinos. In the state of Arizona, in Phoenix and beyond, there are certain criteria that come into play when a RICO violation has taken place that can result in a criminal indictment. The requirements are that an individual or business is capable of legally benefiting in a specific property; an individual has a repeated pattern of racketeering and gains as a result of it; infiltrates an enterprise; and an individual continuously having an interest in an enterprise due to their racketeering activities or conspiring to commit such illegal acts for their own personal gain.

In general, a person is considered liable as an owner when they cause harm to their employees or agents when those individuals are properly acting within the terms of their employment. In order to have a pattern of racketeering, it is required that there are two or more specific acts that make up a pattern that shows a continuous gain by the guilty party over those who are legally performing the jobs for which they have been hired. There are 56 acts that fall under the Federal RICO Act that also qualify under the Arizona law as racketeering (i.e. acts which involve the act or threat of robbery, gambling, murder, kidnapping or arson). These charges are punishable under Arizona’s state law by no less than one year of imprisonment.

Federal racketeering charges are considered a white collar crime. The United States Sentencing Commission determined that there would be harsher sentences for white collar crimes, including federal racketeering charges, in 1987. There are various levels of federal offenses, (1) being the lowest and 43 being the highest and amounting to a sentence of life in prison. Crimes that fall under the category of RICO are considered level 19 in severity, which can amount to anywhere from 30 to 37 months served in prison. However, it should be noted that this is the minimum.

If you are arrested under federal charges of illegal control of an enterprise, also known as Racketeering, you will need an attorney who is skilled in the area so that you can get the minimum sentence possible. Our team generally fights a Federal RICO charge based on the indictment being insufficient. As your legal counsel we will argue whether an enterprise even existed and that if it did, it did not have an effect on state or foreign commerce and that the defendant did not perform patterns of racketeering activity.

One of the most common defenses your attorney might use is the violation of your Miranda Rights. In Arizona and every other state, you should be read these rights upon your arrest so that you do not have to incriminate yourself. Another popular defense is Denial of Right to Counsel in which the defendant was not permitted to speak to a lawyer when he or she expressed the desire to do so.

If you are suspected of or charged with Federal RICO charges within the State of Arizona, give us a call at (602) 307-0808 for a free case review. Our offices are available 24 hours a day by phone and also via our confidential web form.

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