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In Bucks County and the rest of Pennsylvania as a whole, racketeering laws make it illegal to receive money from a criminal enterprise, such as through the collection of illegal debts. The state’s Corrupt Organizations Act, just like the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act, it is considered unlawful to conduct any number of organized criminal activities within businesses that exist for such nefarious purposes.
Racketeering Laws in Bucks County and Pennsylvania, in General
Racketeering in Bucks County, Pennsylvania and the rest of the country is a federal offense. In general, the laws regarding this crime target people who have already exhibited a pattern of engaging in criminal activity. A person described as a racketeer is usually someone who is part of an organized criminal enterprise. The laws also focus on businesses that engage in illegal activities. Racketeering laws include the following:
• Continuing Criminal Enterprise (CCE Statute, also known as the Kingpin Statute)
• Hobbs Act
• Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO)
• Violent Crimes in Aid of Racketeering Activity
Generally speaking, the major focus of RICO is racketeering. RICO generally focuses on criminal organizations whose crimes are ongoing in an effort to reduce these crimes. As per the law, it is possible to charge and prosecute leaders for crimes they didn’t personally carry out but organized and ordered to be performed.
The purpose of the RICO Act is to prohibit any number of activities that are normally conducted within an enterprise that has been established for criminal purposes that affect interstate or foreign commerce. The statute looks to “successfully resist and eliminate” these criminal activities by providing “new remedies and procedures.”
Offenses Prohibited Under Racketeering Laws in Bucks County
There are a few offenses that are considered against the law as per the racketeering laws in Bucks County and Pennsylvania, in general. They include the following:
• Directly or indirectly investing income that has been gained through a pattern of racketeering activities where one person acted as a principal or gaining proceeds of money or interest while running a criminal organization or enterprise
• Directly or indirectly receiving or maintaining control of an enterprise for the purpose of conducting any type of racketeering activity
• Directly or indirectly participating in the conduct of an illegal enterprise’s affairs by means of racketeering activity while employed by or associated with that enterprise
• Conspiring to violate any of the provisions of the statute
Penalties and Sentences for Racketeering in Bucks County
Racketeering is charged as a felony in the first degree, which means that a person who is convicted of the crime can face a maximum of 20 years in prison. In addition, the individual would be responsible for paying fines. The fines can range from $25,000 at minimum to an even greater amount depending on the specific gain the individual got from engaging in their criminal activity.
There may also be civil penalties instituted against the person as well. The defendant may be ordered by the court to divest of any interest, whether direct or indirect in the enterprise, may receive restrictions for future activities or investments and may have to pay restitution to any victims. The enterprise itself may typically be ordered to be dissolved and the individual may be ordered not to engage in any business in the future.
Possible Defenses to Racketeering in Bucks County
There are four key defenses that a criminal defense attorney can use in a court case involving racketeering charges. They include the following:
• Duress or compulsion: The defendant was under duress when they committed the racketeering activities
• Entrapment: Police committed entrapment, so the defendant should not be found guilty of racketeering
• Lack of “pattern of racketeering activity”: The defendant does not have a history or pattern of racketeering activities
• Withdrawal: The defendant withdrew from the activities
A person who has been arrested on racketeering charges in Bucks County needs a skilled attorney to represent them. The lawyer can build a strong case against the charges and have them reduced or possibly even dropped.