In addition to its ramifications for prosecuting criminals, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO Act, was passed to allow financial redress for victims of RICO-related criminal activity.
The RICO Act, passed in 1970, entitles victims of criminal organizations to triple damages. As such, civil lawsuits against individuals, corporations, and organizations involve large sums of money, making a civil RICO suit an attractive option for financial redress for the alleged victim.
A civil RICO suit has a statute of limitations equal to four years after the victim knew or should have known of his or her injuries.
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The RICO Act allows for triple damages to be imposed against organizations who are found liable in a civil lawsuit. This punitive award makes a RICO suit attractive to both the alleged victim and his or her lawyers, who are free to settle out of court rather than seek a jury verdict.
In a civil suit, the jury need only be convinced that a "preponderance of evidence" exists against the defendant, whereas in a criminal RICO trial, a prosecutor has the tougher task of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that acts of racketeering were committed by the defendant.
According to the RICO Act, an enterprise can face RICO charges simply by committing fraud via the use of "mail or wire". Since virtually all businesses use telephones, email, and the U.S. Mail, critics of the RICO Act point out that any organization suspected of fraud is automatically a candidate for RICO charges as well.
While many illegal acts are prohibited under the RICO Act, the most common charges a business or organization may face include:
If your organization or business is facing a civil RICO lawsuit, contact our office today via our Consultations Page.