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RICO & Conspiracy Offenses

RICO, or the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” Act, was enacted to help the federal authorities to fight organized crime. It allows federal prosecuting attorneys to prosecute organizations, such as businesses they believe are engaging in illegal acts such as fraud or extortion. Prior to the passage of the RICO Act, many people were able to escape legal consequences as they did not personally commit the crime. The RICO Act changed this facet of law forever, allowing others involved in a crime but who did not personally commit the action to be charged.

Federal conspiracy statute

Under 18 U.S.C. Section 371, conspiracy is a federal crime, defined as:

“If two or more persons conspire either to commit any offense against the United States, or to defraud the United States, or any agency thereof in any manner or for any purpose, and one or more of such persons do any act to effect the object of the conspiracy, each shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.”

Every instance of the crime may be listed separately, and a conviction could lead to years in a federal penitentiary, along with heavy financial losses if property has been seized.

Federal racketeering charges

Many different crimes may be charged under the RICO Act, including:

  • Wire fraud
  • Mail fraud
  • Bank fraud
  • Drug trafficking
  • Counterfeiting
  • Money laundering
  • Extortion
  • Embezzlement
  • Violent crimes (gang crimes, hate crimes, kidnapping, violent or terrorist threats, and others)

If your business has come under scrutiny by a federal police agency, you need legal representation immediately. Exercise your right to remain silent, and call Hickey & Chung L.L.P. in San Francisco. The earlier our legal team gets involved in your defense, the better it could be for you. If you are asked to answer questions in an investigation into some aspect of a business activity with which you are involved, you must have your attorney present during questioning. The risks are high in these investigations, and you may feel that being helpful will be to your benefit, but this could backfire badly, leading you to face a federal criminal charge.

Defending a RICO or conspiracy charge

Several elements must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for a conviction to be achieved by a federal prosecutor. Charges of conspiracy or a RICO charge typically come following a lengthy investigation. The first critical step is to have your attorney review the evidence against you. A thorough evaluation of the case often reveals serious errors that could be exploited in crafting a defense case, including but not limited to:

  • False witness statements
  • Falsehoods in police reports
  • Rights violations, such as an illegal stop, search, or seizure
  • Lack of criminal intent
  • Illegal surveillance activities by police

Penalties for conspiracy

Heavy penalties can be imposed in a federal conviction for conspiracy, including up to twenty years in federal prison, a criminal record that destroys your future prospects, and if you are a noncitizen, deportation. Fines can be up to $250,000 for an individual and up to $500,000 for an organization. A restitution or forfeiture order may lead to extreme financial losses.

Why choose Hickey & Chung L.L.P.?

If you are facing federal charges under the RICO Act or are charged with conspiracy, you need a federal criminal defense attorney who has the experience, knowledge, and familiarity with the federal court system to take action to mitigate the damage. Our attorney team is talented, respected, and has a great breadth of experience serving in federal court. We provide a level of service that could be critical to the outcome of your case, including the use of private investigators, financial experts, and other professional resources that are always on call and ready to get to work. We offer a team approach and can take on even the most challenging cases. Call today to discuss your case.