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Prior to the passage of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in 1978, state and federal prosecutors often complained of their inability to meaningfully penetrate organized criminal groups and punish upper-echelon wrongdoers who were the true authors of illegal activity.

Since RICO’s passage, that lament is heard far less often.

And there is a manifestly clear reason for that: RICO has an encompassing reach, and a punitive stick that comes down hard on criminal suspects convicted on any offense that it is focused upon.

The catalog of such offenses is encompassing, indeed, as evidenced by a partial compilation noted on a RICO-related federal crimes page of our website at the metro Detroit-based Law Offices of Bradley J. Friedman. Prosecutors often file RICO charges against individuals alleging criminal activity such as money laundering, interstate drug trafficking, counterfeiting, tax evasion, prostitution, and additional offenses with an interstate nexus.

RICO is popular with prosecutors because of its broad reach and its efficacy in enabling the prosecution of individuals alleged to be connected to an unlawful enterprise and acting on its behalf, even in the absence sometimes of hard proof that a targeted individual personally committed a crime.

That sheer reach, states an online analysis of RICO, continues to make the statutory enactment — which also now encompasses state versions — “a controversial law.”

It is certainly unquestionable, given the potential and obvious downsides for any suspect targeted in a RICO probe, that such person has an immediate and compelling need for proven defense help from an experienced attorney.

As the above overview notes, although an alleged RICO violation is serious, indeed, the prosecution still must prove its case.

A seasoned criminal defense attorney will insist that it do so on every material point.