RICO is a United States law that was set in place in the year 1970. RICO law has gained something of a reputation among legal circles for being a complex and confusing law. However, the complexity of this act may be far less intimidating than you would think upon first glance. With a little research, time, and energy, anyone can get a basic understanding of the fundamental aspects of RICO.

What Is RICO Law?

RICO stands for Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The law itself is quite a mouthful, but its purpose can be summed up in a short synopsis: RICO was enacted to allow organized crime victims to sue potential responsible parties. As an example, imagine that a member of the mafia has been ordered to murder a politician. If the mafia member wishes to do so, he or she may then accuse the person who ordered the crime. The leader of the syndicate may then be held on trial for organizing the crime even though he or she did not commit the crime directly.

The law was put into effect with the intention of prosecuting members of the mafia, illegal gambling organizations, and other organized crime rings. However, the RICO is used as a prosecution against many different kinds of criminal activity in the present day.

The History of RICO Law

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was created as a vital piece of a separate act, the Organized Crime Control Act (which was also enacted in 1970.) Also included in the bundle was the Illegal Gambling Business Act. These acts were put into place in an attempt to control organized crime. The law was intended to eliminate organized crime by cutting off revenue sources such as gambling houses. The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act was drafted by G. Robert Blakey and signed by previous President of the United States, Richard Nixon on the fifteenth of October.

Understanding RICO Law

One of the reasons so many people have difficulty understanding the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act is because the language used within the act is considered broad or even vague in some areas. Just about all RICO law claims can be found beneath subsection 1962(c):

“It shall be unlawful for any person employed by or associated with any
enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign
commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of
such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or
collection of unlawful debt.”

This subsection is flowery and a little confusing for someone who is unfamiliar with written legal documents. The language within this section can be compacted down into a simpler format that consists of five main points. An individual commits a RICO violation when:
1. The defendant is person
2. The defendant is working for, employed by, or even loosely associated with the enterprise at hand.
3. The work affects commerce.
4. The defendant directly or indirectly influences or participates in the affairs of the enterprise at hand.
5. A pattern is present that involves racketeering or the unlawful collecting of debt.

In conclusion, RICO can be summarized as a conspiracy law that aims to prosecute individuals who orchestrate crime but do not necessarily directly commit the crime. The language behind RICO can be confusing, but can be broken down into somewhat simple terms that carry the intention of convicting those who are guilty. Since RICO can be an overwhelming subject matter, you may want to contact a nearby reputable attorney with any questions or concerns you may have. He or she would be glad to help you get a better grasp on the complications behind RICO law.

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