The law is harsh regarding violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, and a conviction is life-changing.
Understanding the potential outcomes of an appeal is essential to helping you decide if it’s in your best interests.
The basics of RICO
The RICO Act was enacted in 1970 with the goal of taking down the Mafia. However, the government also uses it to convict people involved in various types of illegal businesses. To convict someone of violating the RICO Act, the prosecutor has to prove the following:
1. The existence of a criminal enterprise
2. The enterprise interfered with interstate commerce
3. The individual was involved with the enterprise
4. The individual showed a pattern of racketeering activity, such as bribery, trafficking, drug crimes, extortion, etc.
The penalties can be severe depending on the level of offense, whether it was single or multiple or if it is a predicate offense for the career offender.
In addition to a lengthy prison term, which may include a life sentence, the convicted individual also forfeits all assets gained from their criminal activity.
The complexity of appealing a federal conviction involves the fact that the defense can’t present new evidence. Instead, an appeal may be based on issues such as:
- The government failed to prove the four elements of a RICO violation
- The sentence was too harsh
- The defendant’s constitutional rights were violated
- The prosecution made errors
If you decide to appeal your RICO conviction, it’s crucial that you understand that losing would mean that the ruling is final and your conviction stands. Therefore, you must work with someone who understands the process and will advocate on your behalf.