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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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How Do Federal Defense Attorneys Handle RICO Charges?

By Spodek Law Group | October 19, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 21, 2023)

Last Updated on: 21st October 2023, 08:55 am

How Do Federal Defense Attorneys Handle RICO Charges?

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly known as RICO, is a federal law designed to combat organized crime and racketeering activities. RICO charges can be complex and carry severe penalties, so having an experienced federal defense attorney is critical. Here’s an overview of how federal defense attorneys handle RICO charges:

Understanding RICO Charges

RICO makes it illegal for anyone to engage in a “pattern of racketeering activity” associated with an “enterprise.” This includes many types of crimes like fraud, bribery, money laundering, extortion, and even murder. The “enterprise” can be any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other entity.

Focusing on the Specific Charges and Evidence

While RICO cases often get a lot of media attention, federal defense attorneys treat them like any other criminal case – focusing on the specific charges and evidence.

The defense will closely analyze what evidence there is for each particular racketeering act the defendant is accused of. If the evidence for one charge is weak, the attorney can seek to get that charge dismissed.

This is critical because under RICO, prosecutors only have to prove two racketeering acts occurred within 10 years. If the defense can knock out one of the charges, it could derail the whole RICO case.

Employing Common RICO Defenses

There are several common defenses federal attorneys use in RICO cases:

  • No enterprise – Arguing the alleged “criminal enterprise” doesn’t exist or the defendant wasn’t associated with it.
  • No pattern – Claiming the alleged racketeering acts don’t constitute a “pattern of racketeering activity” under the law.
  • No intent – Asserting the defendant didn’t knowingly and willfully participate in the criminal enterprise.
  • Statute of limitations – Many racketeering acts have a 5-year statute of limitations. The defense may argue certain charges are time-barred.
  • Vagueness – Claiming the RICO charges are overly vague and don’t provide sufficient notice of the specific unlawful acts.

Preparing a Strong Defense at Trial

If a favorable plea deal can’t be reached, the federal defense lawyer will build the strongest possible defense for trial. This includes thoroughly preparing the defendant and any witnesses who may testify.

The attorney will also vigorously cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses to undermine their credibility. In addition, the defense may engage experts to evaluate forensic evidence or testify why the defendant doesn’t meet the profile of a racketeer.

In some cases, the defendant may even take the stand if the attorney feels it could create reasonable doubt in the jury’s mind. The ultimate goal is instilling enough doubt that the jury can’t unanimously agree the defendant is guilty.

Understanding Sentencing and Appeals

If convicted at trial, RICO carries hefty penalties. So federal defense lawyers will present mitigating factors to the judge arguing for leniency. The defense may also challenge forfeiture and restitution amounts sought by the prosecution.

Finally, federal RICO convictions can be appealed on various legal and procedural grounds. An experienced appeals lawyer is key to identifying potential issues for overturning a conviction. The defense continues fighting on the defendant’s behalf even after a guilty verdict.

Finding the Right Federal RICO Defense Attorney

Facing RICO charges is daunting, but an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer can vigorously defend your rights. Be sure to seek out attorneys with specific experience handling complex RICO cases in federal court. This gives you the best chance of success against serious racketeering allegations. With the stakes so high, it’s critical to have the right legal defense on your side.

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