NYC Civil RICO Lawyers
The Racketeer Influenced and Corruption Organizations Act (RICO) was mainly enacted as a criminal statue, and it is part of a civil provision that is found in Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. Under this section of the act, the court can award a plaintiff up to three times the amount the was requested for damages.
Although this law has been in effect for years, the civil provision is hardly ever used. However, there are lawsuits that are filed and use this provision, which includes rules that were not included in the initial version of the section that addresses organized crime and racketeering.
In 1970, the RICO law was enacted by the United States Congress to cut down on Mafia organizations. The law deals with the defense and prosecution of any person who is a member of organized crime or participates in organized crime activities. Since the law was passed, there have been significant changes made, and it has grown to encompass other organizations, which may include motorcycle gangs as well as corrupt government agencies.
The primary factor that separates RICO law from other crime laws or civil laws is the matter in which it is applied. Instead of pursuing a single criminal act, a prosecutor will look for a routine or pattern of criminal behavior with individuals who are members of a criminal organization.
Racketeering is known as any profitable or economic actions of criminal organizations that use illegal activity. In New York, if an individual is convicted of violating the RICO law, he or she could face significant penalties that may include up to 20 years in prison, costly fines, as well as financial restitution to any victims that were involved. In addition, a conviction will result in the dissolution of the criminal organization.
Federal and state statues explain that there are certain crimes that are considered racketeering. These crimes include drug trafficking, embezzlement, counterfeiting, theft, murder, gambling, fraud, and kidnapping. If an individual is charged and convicted of a RICO violation, and the victim suffered from injuries do to the defendant’s illegal activity, the victim may be able to file a civil lawsuit. These individuals have the right to seek monetary compensation up to three times the damages. In addition, the defendant may also have to pay the plaintiff’s attorney fees for the lawsuit.
In order for plaintiffs to file a successful RICO claim, he or she must prove two factors. These factors are if the plaintiff’s suffered from an injury and his or her property was damaged, and the plaintiff must also prove that the physical harm was due to the defendant’s violation of the RICO law.
When an individual is a defendant is a civil RICO lawsuit, it does not mean that it will result in a criminal conviction. In order to be convicted, a plaintiff is required to prove there was a significant financial loss.
What are the Components of a RICO Claim?
For an individual to be liable for violating the RICO law, it must be proven that he or she participated in a criminal organization with a known pattern for racketeering. In order to prove this, specific components must apply such as predicate actions, enterprise, and a pattern of racketeering activity.
The first step in a RICO lawsuit is finding the enterprise. An enterprise that is in a RICO lawsuit may be illegitimate or legitimate. In addition, an enterprise may also be broadly tied to a group or corporate organization.
There are also additional technicalities that could include defendant/enterprise determination as well as the important connections to any predicate acts that are typically included in a plaintiff’s plan. With a skilled defense attorney, it could be proven that certain circumstances do not adhere to the conditions of the technicalities.
What are Predicate Acts?
RICO lawsuits also involve predicate acts, which are acts of racketeering that include additional criminal activity. Although there are many crimes that can fall into this category, some include extortion, kickback, bribery, gambling in an illegal manner, money laundering, wire fraud, and mail fraud.
It is also required that a plaintiff proves predicate acts took place in addition to making certain that the actions occurred during the statue of limitation period in New York. A skilled criminal defense attorney will question if the required predicates were present as stated in Rule 9(b) of the Rules of Civil Procedure.
Patterns of Racketeering Activities
In order for a RICO lawsuit to be successful, a pattern where at least two acts occurred that involved racketeering must be proven. In most cases, it is a requirement that the enterprise commit the predicates acts or profits from these actions and uses the funds as an investment into the enterprise.
Continuity is another component to a RICO claim. This activity is ongoing and has taken place over a significant amount of time. This could be accomplished in may ways that include when the enterprise conducts business through racketeering.