RICO Law was passed to sanction the act of committing an isolated crime. Still, as with most government law, it has since morphed into a tool used to prosecute the enterprise and the individual behind any particular crime. The term "RICO law" is often mentioned as an example in everything from gangster movies to criminal trials, where the line in what constitutes a sufficiently large enterprise is unclear.
Title 18, Section 1961 of the United States Code enumerates several racketeering activities, all of which must be performed as part of a scheme or plan. The system or method will usually involve the commission of several crimes, which are spelled out in the enumeration of the types of racketeering activities.

Americans and Convicts

The RICO Act provides both civil and criminal penalties for violations. Civil penalties include:
  • Financial penalties
  • Possible barring of individuals from acting in the securities industry
  • Possible barring of individuals from running a bank
  • Injunctive relief
  • Loss of reputation
  • Prison time
  • Criminal penalties include:
  • Up to 20 years in prison
  • Fine of up to $25 million

Following a conviction, the government seizes a criminal enterprise's assets. They lose all their money and property that can be traced back to criminal conduct. Steep budget cuts can severely cripple the organization itself, and, in some cases, they may be shut down entirely.

Civil Remedies for Victims

A civil RICO case is a court case available to people whom a criminal organization has victimized. RICO stands for "Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations," a federal law aimed at organized crime. A plaintiff in a RICO lawsuit can recover losses caused by the criminal elements of the enterprise, obtain a court order to prevent others from participating in the group in the future, and collect monetary damages.

Some Aspects of a RICO Claim

Organized crime is run by enterprises, such as corporations, partnerships, and other entities. Informal organizations, such as street gangs may also qualify as enterprises.
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The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) includes a pattern definition. According to RICO, "pattern" is entirely undefined. If you read the act, a "pattern" is just two or more acts of racketeering activity within ten years.