Racketeering is becoming more of a popular crime in states across the U.S., evolving and becoming more diverse by the day. Many of the crimes that are elevated to racketeering on a daily basis include computer fraud, bank fraud, bribery, and more. Provided the crimes are committed to benefit a group of people, large or small, racketeering has occurred. We see many examples of these crimes taking place today, from a 2015 scandal involving bribes by FIFA, to a law enforcement officer in Colorado being indicted in a massive Colorado trafficking ring with racketeering charges. (1)
Colorado Organized Crime Control Act
One of the most popular types of racketeering crimes in Colorado is money laundering, which is a type of organized crime where funds are brought in from illegal activities by groups of people. Many of the defendants in these cases attempt to hide these assets, which will lead to harsh penalties like up to 12 years in prison, thousands of dollars in fines, and more. If punished under the Colorado Organized Crime Control Act (COCCA), a defendant would receive a Class 2 felony punishable by up to 24 years in prison, and a fine of up to $1,000,000. As you can see, receiving penalties under COCCA (on a state level) can be very severe and have a huge impact on your life. (2)
Criminal and Civil Charges
The law constitutes over 35 crimes as racketeering, including gambling, murder, kidnapping, and more. These crimes can either be charged under COCCA or Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) in Colorado, as long as the element of an enterprise is present. Without an enterprise, somebody is just working on their own and can’t be charged under COCCA or RICO. Criminal penalties for racketeering can land a person in prison or with costly fines, but what about civil penalties?
If somebody has been injured financially by a racketeering charges, they can sue for damages under these laws. However, a plaintiff must be able to show and meet certain elements, such as:
Criminal Activity: One of the RICO or COCCA crimes (such as mail fraud) must have occurred. The courts treat these crimes seriously and there are many elements to be met within the claim.
Pattern: A pattern of crimes, not just one crime over multiple years, must be shown to bring a successful case. However, the pattern of crimes must be related in many ways, such as the same participants and the same types of crimes.
Statute of Limitations: There are also statutes of limitations to bring a claim in every state, many of which abide by the four-year rule.
Because you, as a defendant in a racketeering case, could receive both serious criminal and civil penalties, it is imperative to have a criminal defense attorney on your side every step of the way. Turn to us if you are being charged under RICO or COCCA laws in Colorado and need our help.