Top Racketeering (RICO) Defense Lawyers in Maryland
Have you been charged with racketeering or a related crime? Are you afraid that some of the business practices you or your associates have engaged in may be viewed as criminal?
If so, then speaking to a white collar crime lawyer with experience dealing with Racketeering cases is your first step in building a good defense.
The criminal law team at Houlon Berman is one of the top in the business. Their in-depth understanding of the RICO Act and the penalties that can accompany a racketeering charge can offer you clear insight into your case and how to prepare a successful defense.
If you find yourself facing racketeering charges right now, don’t waste any time – contact one of our experienced attorneys today.
Understanding Racketeering Charges
Racketeering is a term that many people have heard but don’t really understand. At its most basic, racketeering involves using a business for illegal purposes. This can be selling a service that does not exist, or inciting people to purchase a service that is only necessary because of your actions. This is the case with the well-known “protection racket”. A group offers to protect local businesses from damage and theft for a fee, yet they are the ones who will be doing the damaging and stealing if the fee is not paid.
That is only one of the more obvious activities. A few other illegal business activities that can land you with racketeering charges include the following:
Extortion: This is the practice of forcing an individual or organization to surrender assets, cash, or privilege through coercion. Blackmail is a type of extortion that typically involves holding information hostage with the threat of revealing it serving as the victimized party’s incentive to pay for silence. A “protection racket” can be classified as a type of extortion.
Money Laundering: This refers to using legitimate businesses to “clean up” so called “dirty money” gained through illegitimate operations like illegal drug sales or prostitution. In the simplest version “dirty money” is added to the books of a legitimate business in “layers” and appears to be part of the regular income. It is then “clean” and can be used or invested without worry.
Bribery: A concept most people are familiar with, bribery can be understood as “payment for privilege”. You offer money in order to gain access, learn information, conceal actions, etc.
Obstruction of Justice and Perjury: Using any of the aforementioned tactics, or variations of them, to impede an investigation or doctor what a witness will say during testimony.
The RICO act was enacted on October 15, 1970 for the purpose of targeting organized crime, though its target has broadened since then. Charges of racketeering can be brought against an individual who has committed any two (2) from a list of thirty-five (35) crimes.
What sets the RICO act apart from other laws is that it focuses more on patterns in a person’s behavior, rather than on specific criminal acts.
Penalties for Racketeering
A racketeering charge will bring you a $25,000 fine and up to twenty (20) years in prison. What makes racketeering charges so potentially devastating is that you are charged “per racketeering count”. This means that if you are shown to have committed five (5) counts of racketeering, you would potentially face $125,000 in fines and what could amount to life in prison.
You will also be required to forfeit all ill-gotten gains acquired through racketeering. This includes interest and assets acquired in the course of business, as well as wages and profit. After the criminal proceedings have finished and you have paid your fines, any victims of your crimes will have the opportunity to collect damages from you in civil court.
This set-up makes it possible for the accused to pay for his crimes in three separate ways; forfeit assets, fines, and restitution.
Because racketeering charges can be so financially crippling, they are sometimes used to encourage the accused to plead guilty to lesser charges.
Contact Houlon Berman
Charges of racketeering can have long-reaching consequences for you, your business, and your family. If you have been charged with Racketeering, do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Houlon, Berman, Finci, Levenstein & Sandler.
A good defense must start early. Contact us today to start building your case.
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