Facing charges of racketeering often means dealing with complex nuances of the law. Many have heard the term “racket,” meaning a business involving illegal activity, such as drug trafficking or gambling. However, racketeering can take many forms and may involve many levels of operation, some of which may be legitimate businesses. Under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, those accused of racketeering may face serious penalties at the federal level, and the state of Mississippi has enacted a similar statute at the state level.
If authorities charge someone with racketeering, it means they believe the accused has committed any of the following or other criminal acts:
- Running a business that deals in illegal trade, such as drugs, weapons, prostitution, counterfeiting, or cybercrimes
- Acquiring a business with funds obtained through illegal activities
- Using a legitimate business as a front for criminal operations or to launder money obtained through criminal activity
- Threatening harm to a business unless the owner agrees to pay for protection
RICO laws can also reach beyond the typical mobster-type crimes. For example, banks have faced RICO charges for predatory lending policies. Drug companies allegedly engage in racketeering when they increase their profits by paying doctors to overprescribe their drugs.
To prove someone is guilty of violating RICO statutes, Mississippi prosecutors or the federal government must prove specific facts beyond a reasonable doubt. This includes proving that the business truly existed, that it affected commerce and that the accused was involved in its operations, among other things. Those facing racketeering charges have much to lose and should not try to deal with these accusations without a strong criminal defense strategy.