Racketeering involves businesses of one or more individuals scheming to commit for-profit criminal acts. That business can be one that persons illegally acquired, an organization that uses unlawfully obtained money or an entity that conducts illegal operations. Investigations and prosecutions occur at federal and Illinois state levels. Keep reading to learn the basic facts about racketeering.
Types of criminal acts
The type of activity categorized as racketeering crimes is extensive and includes the following:
- Ransomware cyberattacks
- Kidnapping for ransom
- Murder for hire
- Illegal gambling
- Organized drug and human trafficking
- Protection racket
- Organized prostitution
When a legal business engages in non-violent racketeering acts, such as money laundering, fraud or extortion, these are known as white collar crimes.
In 1970, Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which allows prosecutors to seize assets and charge organized groups in addition to individuals. To successfully prosecute a case, the government must prove the following items beyond a reasonable doubt:
- An enterprise existed
- Activities affected commerce in multiple states
- Defendant was an enterprise associate or employee
- Defendant participated in at least two acts of racketeering
Illinois racketeering law enforces strict penalties for individuals who intentionally and knowingly participate in criminal activities on behalf of an organization. Crimes include localized instances of the previously mentioned federal crimes, as well as recruitment of street gang members and gunrunning.
Beyond a reasonable doubt
Racketeering penalties are stiff in federal and state courts, and judgments may include fines, restitution or prison. However, individuals are innocent until proven guilty, and prosecutors must prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury. A good defense attorney may be able to counter the prosecutor’s case and create doubt in the jury’s mind.
Remember, a criminal charge is not the same as a conviction. There is always hope.