Racketeering is an incredibly serious crime that often allows police and prosecutors to extend criminal charges to multiple parties and organizations. To target mob activity and organized crime, both New Jersey and the United States have Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Acts (RICO Acts) that specifically target racketeering activities and organized crime.
If you or a loved one has been charged with racketeering offenses or any crime involving organized crime, talk to an attorney immediately. These charges are incredibly serious and often involve some of the most sophisticated law enforcement and prosecution techniques, especially if you face federal charges. The Atlantic City racketeering lawyers at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations to help you understand the charges against you and what legal options we can take to help fight your case. For a free legal consultation, contact our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.
RICO and Organized Crime Laws in Atlantic County, NJ
New Jersey and the United States each have their own RICO laws. These laws are structured similarly and designed to combat organized crime by punishing anyone who uses racketeering or criminal activity run a business or gain profits. The statutes specifically punish four things:
- Using the proceeds of racketeering activity to purchase or invest in something;
- Using racketeering activity to maintain an interest or control in any enterprise;
- Operating an enterprise through racketeering activity, or
- Conspiring to do any of the above.
The “enterprise” referred to in these crimes can be any organization or company, whether it is a legal or illegal one. This means that reinvesting the proceeds of criminal activity into a criminal organization is illegal, as is operating a legitimate business through racketeering.
These crimes are punished with severe criminal and civil penalties. First, you may face civil penalties including forfeiting any profits, interests, or property you gained from illegal activity, we well as damages. Second, you could face high criminal fines for the activity, including up to $200,000 for the NJ statute. Third, you could face very high jail time. RICO offenses are first level crimes in New Jersey, which authorizes prison sentences of 10-20 years per count.
What Qualifies as “Racketeering” in Atlantic County?
RICO laws punish using the proceeds from racketeering and use of racketeering in business, but “racketeering activity” is separate conduct. Both the federal and state RICO Acts include lists of criminal activities that qualify as “racketeering activities.” Racketeering commonly involves any crime-for-hire, such as murder, arson, burglary, or other crimes offered as a service. It also involves any services that someone creates through their illegal activities, such as protection rackets or insurance rackets where victims pay someone not to assault them or burn their buildings. Lastly, a “pattern of racketeering activity” can involve two or more commissions of a crime or a series of criminal incidents involving “similar purposes, results, participants or victims or methods of commission,” i.e., crimes that seems to be part of the same pattern.
The NJ RICO statute lists specific racketeering crimes, including “murder, kidnapping, gambling, promoting prostitution…robbery, bribery, extortion, … arson, … theft, … fraud,” and more. Any of these crimes can constitute “racketeering activity” that could lead to RICO charges.
When you are charged with RICO offenses, you may also be charged with the underlying crimes. These individual charges can come as charges for completed crimes, attempted crimes, or conspiracy to commit the crimes. This means you could face criminal penalties for the RICO offense, but you could also face additional penalties for each underlying offense.
Many racketeering crimes carry substantial criminal penalties since they are classified as some of the highest levels of crime. Crimes like murder are automatically first level crimes while others can vary in classification. Regardless, these offenses are punished as follows:
- First degree crimes are punished by fines up to $200,000 and 10-20 years in prison.
- Second degree crimes are punished by fines up to $150,000 and 5-10 years in prison.
- Third degree crimes are punished by fines up to $15,000 and 3-5 years in prison.
- Fourth degree crimes are punished by fines up to $10,000 and up to 18 months in prison.
- Disorderly persons offenses are punished by $1,000 and up to 6 months in jail.
Our Atlantic City, NJ Racketeering Defense Lawyers Offer Free Consultations
If you or a loved one has been charged with a racketeering or RICO offense, you should speak to an attorney about your case. The penalties from RICO charges can be extremely high, and you could face years in prison if convicted. For help with your case, contact a New Jersey racketeering lawyer you can depend on. John Zarych and the attorneys at The Law Offices of John J. Zarych offer free consultations on racketeering and RICO charges. To schedule your consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.