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What are the penalties for racketeering?

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Racketeering is a complex crime that carries significant penalties. It can be prosecuted on state and federal levels, meaning you can face a decade of imprisonment, steep fines, asset forfeiture, and other harsh penalties. As such, if you’re under investigation for racketeering, you should contact a qualified Astoria Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help you understand your legal options. 

What is racketeering?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act makes it a crime for criminal organizations to use fraudulent schemes to extort money from another person or entity for illegal profit. Essentially, racketeering is a type of organized crime that represents a pattern of criminal acts such as embezzlement, bribery, kidnapping, money laundering, counterfeiting, gambling, arson, murder, and other unlawful activities. RICO laws aim to combat organized crime by enabling prosecutors to bring criminal organizations up on various criminal acts under a single prosecution. It is imperative to understand that racketeering is not one singular act but refers to multiple instances of unlawful activity.

What are the potential penalties?

As mentioned above, racketeering can be prosecuted at both the state and federal levels. In New York, you could face 25 years to life in prison without parole, depending on the specific circumstances of your crimes. Additionally, you will face steep fines, or in lieu, the court can order you to forfeit all of the assets you benefited from. Sentencing is up to the court’s discretion, meaning if they deem it appropriate, they can also order that you pay triple the gross loss caused in restitution to the victims of your crimes.

Are there any defenses?

Since RICO violations target criminal organization’s wrongdoings, the prosecution must prove there was a pattern of racketeering activity. That said, the prosecution must be able to prove that you engaged in a pattern of at least two or more predicate crimes committed within ten years of each other. RICO violations must involve or impact interstate commerce to be prosecuted under federal law.

Fortunately, several defenses can assist you in achieving an acquittal or reducing your sentence. Firstly, if you can prove that there was no pattern of criminal activity, meaning you did not commit more than two crimes with the same or similar intent, the prosecution cannot charge you with racketeering. Another possible defense is a lack of knowledge of a criminal enterprise. If you were associated with an enterprise involved in the illegal collection of debt or organized criminal activity, but you did not participate in these activities and had no knowledge of the organization’s unlawful scheme to gain illicit profits, lack of knowledge may be used as a defense to prevent criminal charges.

A skilled lawyer from Vasiliou Law can help you explore several defenses that could maximize your chances of achieving dismissed charges or a lesser sentence. Allow our firm to represent your interests today.

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