If you've never had any formal involvement with the criminal justice system, there's a good likelihood that you don't know much about RICO and perhaps have never even heard of it. And, given the singular focus and particulars associated with RICO, there's also a possibility it might draw a blank for you even if you have been targeted in the past for alleged criminal wrongdoing.
If, however, criminal activity you are alleged to have engaged in fits within the parameters of RICO's reach and application, there is an elevated chance that you are learning a great deal of what lurks behind the acronym.
And fear it.
RICO is shorthand for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, federal legislation passed some years back to address what we note on our criminal law website at Hilder & Associates, P.C., in Houston, was "a perceived loophole" in the criminal justice realm.
RICO is a favored go-to statute for prosecutors seeking to tie alleged criminal activity -- much of it in the white-collar realm -- to formal criminal organizations like drug cartels, money-laundering operations, interstate prostitution rings and so forth.
What is instantly notable about RICO is this: For persons who are determined to have engaged in a so-called "pattern of criminal activity" connected to a criminal enterprise and having an effect on interstate commerce, RICO has potentially stinging repercussions.
And then there's this: RICO claims can be brought in both criminal and civil cases, meaning that the possibility exists for both a lengthy prison term following a criminal conviction and the levying of heavy fines following a finding of liability in a civil matter. A RICO outcome can also include the forfeiture of a defendant's assets.
An individual facing a RICO probe might reasonably want to secure the aggressive assistance of a proven defense attorney commanding strong knowledge of the relevant statutory law without delay.
The stakes are high. Experienced legal counsel will work zealously to mitigate adverse consequences and to promote a best-case outcome in any RICO-related matter.