The main purpose of racketeering laws as they apply to financial fraud is to penalize organized criminal activities and crimes, the most common of which include embezzlement, money laundering, extortion, gambling, bribery, and conspiracy.

Racketeering is a federal crime, and therefore, it is prosecuted in the federal courts rather than in the Pennsylvania state courts. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act governs most federal racketeering charges and is part of the Organized Crime Control Act. The purpose of this act is to protect against and prevent organized crime in the United States.

RICO cases are often complex and involve numerous criminal offenses and defendants. Therefore, it is essential that you have experienced legal representation on your side. Philadelphia attorney Brian J. Zeiger’s criminal defense practice consists of representing defendants in both the Pennsylvania state courts and the federal courts. Attorney Zeiger can help you assemble legal defenses to your charge and can advocate for you in court.

Standard of Proof

In order for a federal prosecutor to prove a racketeering or financial fraud charge against the defendant, the prosecutor must prove his or her case “beyond a reasonable doubt”—or beyond a doubt based upon ordinary reason and common sense. To successfully meet this burden, the federal prosecutor must prove the following against the criminal defendant:

  • That the defendant’s actions constituted an enterprise in which he engaged in racketeering over the past ten (10) years
  • That the alleged victim was harmed by the defendant’s criminal actions
  • That at least two (2) “predicate acts” were involved
  • “Predicate acts” are crimes that are related and involve common instructions, patterns, methods, or victims.

Defenses to Racketeering Charges

Fortunately, several defenses may be available to criminal defendants who have been charged with conspiracy or racketeering:

  • Falsehoods in witness statements or police reports
  • Civil rights violations
  • Lack of physical evidence to prove the elements of the crime
  • Illegally performed searches and seizures (i.e. Fourth Amendment violations)
  • Unrelated criminal offenses
  • Lack of criminal intent on the part of the defendant who was charged with the crime

Possible Penalties

Since conspiracy/RICO charges involve federal crimes against the United States, the potential penalties can be serious and longstanding. Penalties may include up to twenty years in state prison, as well as probation or parole.

Contact a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Attorney Today to Discuss Your Case

A conviction for racketeering is serious and can result in hefty fines, jail time, or both. Federal prosecutors tend to over-charge criminal defendants and often try to obtain evidence by unlawful means.

An experienced criminal defense attorney on your side can make the difference between going to jail and obtaining a dismissal of your charge. Criminal defense attorney Brian J. Zeiger may be able to assist you with obtaining a favorable plea deal from a federal prosecutor and minimizing the long-term impacts of your case.

To schedule a free consultation and case evaluation with a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer, please call us or contact us online.

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