RICO law refers to the prosecution and defense of individuals who engage in organized crime. In 1970, Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act in an effort to combat Mafia groups. Since that time, the law has been expanded and used to go after a variety of organizations, from corrupt police departments to motorcycle gangs. RICO law should not be thought of as a way to punish the commission of an isolated criminal act. Rather, the law establishes severe consequences for those who engage in a pattern of wrongdoing as a member of a criminal enterprise.
The underlying federal and state offenses can include the crimes of homicide, kidnapping, extortion, and witness tampering. Racketeering activities can also include property crimes such as robbery and arson. A number of financial crimes are also listed, such as money laundering, counterfeiting, securities violations, as well as mail and wire fraud.
Remember, the rules of procedure in a RICO prosecution allow the government to freeze the defendant’s assets before the case even goes to trial.