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I've been charged with racketeering, what does that mean?

Falling under the umbrella term of white-collar crimes, racketeering typically refers to one of two situations. Often prosecuted under specific laws and statutes, racketeering charges are also handled according to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. For defendants facing allegations of racketeering, RICO drastically altered the playing field.

One type of racketeering involves an illegal business run by some type of organized group such as a gang. These so-called rackets have not changed much over time in Texas, and they still include covers for other activities such as drug, sex or weapons trafficking. Part of a racket's staying power is typically in the large number of people working for it. A common tactic for those heading up rackets is to bring in as many workers as possible in order to make arresting everyone involved an almost impossible task.

Racketeering can also involve perfectly legal businesses and companies, but the main focus is on illegal, behind-the-scenes activity. Racketeering charges are brought forth when a crime or other illegal organization embezzles money from a legal company. This differs from typical embezzlement charges that usually involve individuals who were working at the targeted business.

Because of RICO, prosecutors have more leverage when attempting to prove the validity of a defendant's charges, although it is certainly not without controversy. As such, defendants in Texas who are dealing with racketeering charges would likely benefit from careful and timely attention to the various options they have when it comes to a strong defense. While the RICO act might seem discouraging at face value, the legal system still ensures a defendant's rights and innocence be maintained while shifting the burden of proof off of their shoulders and placing it with the prosecution.

Source: FindLaw, "Racketeering/RICO", Accessed on Aug. 19, 2015

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