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What are predicate offenses under the RICO Act?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | RICO Violations

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act serves as powerful legislation against organized crime. It’s unique because it targets an entire enterprise and punishes everyone who has been conducting racketeering activities within the organization.

Under the RICO Act, 35 crimes are defined as racketeering activities, which are predicate offenses. For any member of a criminal organization to be charged under the RICO Act, they must have committed two or more predicate offenses within ten years. Understanding what constitutes a predicate offense is crucial for comprehending how RICO works.

RICO’s two main focuses

When a prosecutor uses the RICO Act to target a criminal organization, their two main focuses are usually evidence of consistent and continuous racketeering activities and the existence of an enterprise that controls operations.

It’s important to note that the enterprise doesn’t have to be an illegal entity like a street gang or a drug cartel. It can also be a corrupt police department or even a family. As long as the enterprise exhibits a predictable pattern of racketeering activity, the members can be prosecuted with sufficient evidence.

The RICO Act has a comprehensive list of predicate crimes that include, but are not limited to, arson, rape, gambling and drug dealing. These crimes are often serious felonies that are harshly punished under state and federal realms. Predicate crimes essentially form the building blocks of a pattern of racketeering activity.

The only way any member of an enterprise can be prosecuted under the RICO Act is if they’ve committed two predicated crimes in the last ten years. But this isn’t enough; the prosecution must demonstrate a trackable relationship between the alleged member and the enterprise. Further, these two or more predicate crimes must have been coordinated by the enterprise.

Defending against predicate offenses in Michigan

In RICO cases, the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. They have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed two or more racketeering offenses within an enterprise. Therefore, if the offenses happened to be isolated incidents that had no connection with the enterprise in question, an experienced defense team can help weaken or even dismiss the prosecution’s case.

Facing RICO charges can be an unnerving experience. However, defendants can fight these serious racketeering accusations with legal help in Michigan. By carefully studying the specifics of a case, a reliable legal team can determine the most effective strategy to weaken or even dismiss the prosecution’s case.