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Understanding racketeering and the RICO act in New Jersey

On Behalf of | Mar 8, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Racketeering cases gained popularity when the US government used them to bust mafia figures and famous crime bosses. However, law enforcement can also bring these charges to regular business enterprises or individuals in New Jersey.

Racketeering explained

Racketeering is not a specific crime; it means engaging in an illegal scheme for financial gain. Since its passing in 1970, Congress has recognized racketeering as a violation of federal law under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). They intended to punish organized crime groups who profited from illegal activities like gambling, bribery, human trafficking, drug dealing or counterfeiting.

New Jersey’s laws on racketeering

Title 2C of the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice (Sec 2C:1-4) defines racketeering as a “pattern of criminal activity.” The state treats it as a first-degree crime and can result in heavy fines, forfeiture of property, and up to 20 years in prison. In New Jersey, the most common charges associated with racketeering are:

  • Money laundering
  • Fraudulent use of credit cards
  • Uttering counterfeit securities or currency
  • Obtaining controlled substances through fraud or deception
  • Operating an illegal gambling business

How New Jersey prosecutes racketeering cases

The prosecution must prove that the accused was part of a criminal enterprise and engaged in a pattern of criminal activities. The evidence presented by prosecutors in racketeering cases often includes documents and testimony from alleged victims, witnesses or professional associates. New Jersey has zero tolerance for racketeering; even if the court finds an individual to be only indirectly involved with the scheme, they can still charge them as part of a larger group.

Defenses to a racketeering charge

When charged with racketeering in the state of New Jersey, you must comprehend both the accusation and your circumstances to create an impregnable defense with your criminal defense attorney. It is possible to challenge the strength of the prosecution’s evidence and argue that you were unaware of any illegal activity or had no intent to participate in it. Moreover, you can make a plea bargain with the prosecution, which may result in reduced fines or prison time.

Racketeering is a serious crime in New Jersey that can result in harsh penalties, even for those who are only indirectly involved. However, people can improve their chances for a positive outcome during a trial by understanding their rights and taking the necessary steps to build a solid defense.