The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act is a landmark piece of federal legislation that went into effect in the early 1970s.
Its original purpose was to curtail the activities of known Mafia groups or other organized crime syndicates. It magnifies the penalties that are associated with various white-collar crimes like money laundering, drug crimes like drug conspiracy and other serious offenses like child pornography and violations of environmental law.
Crimes that are prosecuted as RICO Act violations must have certain characteristics:
- The perpetrator must be a member of a criminal organization that knowingly profits from his or her activities.
- The organization must have the intention to defraud the authorities or knowingly break the law.
- The violations must involve fraudulent acts that are committed with means that are subject to federal regulation, including the U.S. Postal Service or public pension funds.
Since RICO Act violations can be financially devastating and result in lengthy prison sentences, any person who is accused of being in violation of the act should contact a reputable Houston RICO violations attorney right away.
Possible Punishments for RICO Violations in Houston
RICO violations carry stringent criminal penalties. Each violation carries a maximum fine of $25,000 and a maximum prison sentence of 20 years in a federal penitentiary. While the criminal fines that can be levied under this statute are capped at $250,000, there is no practical limit to the amount of prison time that a convicted RICO violator may serve.
Unlike some other criminal defendants, individuals who are convicted of RICO violations are also subject to additional civil penalties. Victims of certain fraudulent activities that are covered by the RICO Act are entitled to sue the perpetrators to recover damages. If the judge presiding over these civil cases chooses to award punitive damages to the victims, the perpetrator’s losses may be magnified even further.
Defendants in criminal cases that involve RICO violations may work with their legal representatives to prove that they had no knowledge of the alleged violations, or that the violations were not perpetrated as components of larger criminal conspiracies. Upon further examination, many fraud cases are shown to have occurred outside the auspices of the RICO Act. The penalties for criminal offenses that are not covered by the RICO Act are significantly more lenient than the penalties for crimes that are covered. Likewise, an experienced RICO violations and racketeering attorney in Houston may be able to show that the federal officials who are in charge of a RICO investigation misused evidence or acted improperly. This could lead to a case dismissal by a judge.
James Alston: Houston’s RICO Violations Expert
Houston criminal defense lawyer James Alston puts his extensive experience as a U.S. district attorney to work in defense of clients who are accused of violating the RICO Act. Mr. Alston spent nearly a decade as a prosecutor. He now works to defend his clients against allegations of fraud, corruption and other serious charges. He is ready to fight for your rights.