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What is a RICO claim?

On Behalf of | Oct 8, 2023 | Commercial Litigation

RICO stands for the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which the United States government introduced in the 1970s to combat the mafia. 

Since then, many states, including Texas and Oklahoma, have introduced their own versions, and prosecutors have used it to bring charges against many individuals who have nothing at all to do with the mafia.

There are two main conditions required to charge someone under this act. Firstly, the person must have a connection to an enterprise alleged to have committed crimes specified under the act. Note that the list of crimes RICO covers is very broad, encompassing many white-collar crimes and even copyright breaches in certain circumstances. Secondly, there must have been a series of alleged illegal actions, not just one

Victims can file a civil claim

Aside from the severe criminal consequences a conviction under RICO can bring, you could also face high-stakes civil action from anyone who claims they were a victim of your actions or the actions of someone within your organization. If they succeed in their claim, you will have to pay them damages of three times the financial harm your supposed violation caused them.

As you can imagine, that can be a pretty frightening prospect if you ever find yourself accused. Unfortunately, those who have issues with your business know this and may use the threat of treble damages to pressure you into making an out-of-court settlement.

If someone threatens you with a RICO lawsuit, you will need to learn more about your legal options. While they may just be trying it on and have little, if any, ground to claim under this act, you cannot afford to ignore their threat, as the consequences of doing so could be harsh.