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RICO/Racketeering

Charlotte Racketeering Defense Lawyers

Helping Clients Navigate RICO Charges

The Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, or RICO, is a federal statute ratified in 1970 that sought to criminalize corruption. Though it was originally instituted to battle organized crime, the law gives federal prosecutors wide-reaching abilities to harshly pursue and punish individuals and organizations in both civil and criminal matters. In modern times, RICO charges are often filed against those accused of running drug-based enterprises, street gangs, and even compromised government departments, including politicians and law enforcement.

North Carolina also has its own set of racketeering laws. Their scope is similarly broad, with the state having the ability to bring charges against for-profit schemes enabling many types of crimes.

Whether you face state or federal charges, racketeering accusations can quickly upend your life and lead to a costly legal battle. Government agencies tend to aggressively prosecute racketeering cases, necessitating the need for experienced legal representation. Our Charlotte racketeering defense lawyers at Oakhurst Legal Group are prepared to mount the vigorous defense you will need. We can evaluate the facts of the situation and the evidence the prosecution plans to exploit before building a case that works to exonerate your involvement in any of the alleged offenses.

Schedule a free consultation to see how we can help you fight racketeering charges. Call (704) 288-1003 or contact us online today.

Laws Surrounding Federal RICO Charges

It is important to understand that RICO is an extremely complex and at times overwhelming statute. You should not attempt to navigate RICO charges alone.

To violate the RICO statute, you will need to have engaged in repeated acts defined as racketeering in connection with some sort of enterprise. Specifically, for a RICO charge to succeed, the defendant will need to have committed a minimum of 2 crimes through the enterprise within the past 10 years.

Criminal offenses that fall under the umbrella of racketeering for the purposes of RICO include:

  • Murder
  • Kidnapping
  • Arson
  • Drug trafficking
  • Bribery
  • Illegal gambling
  • Mail fraud
  • Wire fraud

Committing these offenses independently cannot contribute to RICO charges. The racketeering crimes must be committed in connection with a criminal enterprise.

Common examples of criminal enterprises include:

  • Corporations
  • Street gangs
  • Drug cartel
  • Crime family
  • Political party

You can face both criminal RICO charges and civil RICO charges. Criminal charges are pursued by the federal government. If convicted, offenders could face up to 20 years in prison for each charge in addition to substantial financial penalties, including restitution to victims.

Civil charges can be brought by anyone who has been injured by what they believe to be a RICO violation, so long as a suit meets several eligibility requirements. These criteria was introduced in the 1990s in an effort to curb an excessive number of frivolous civil RICO suits being filed.

To successfully file a RICO civil suit, the claimant must prove:

  • Criminal offenses take place. There must be ample evidence that at least one racketeering crime took place. Courts tend to heavily scrutinize accusations of fraud.
  • A pattern of criminal behavior exists. Like in criminal RICO cases, at least two racketeering crimes must have been committed. They must also either be continuous, having been conducted over a period of a year or more, or related in some material way.
  • The criminal behavior took place within the statute of limitations. An alleged victim has 4 years from the date they discovered their injuries to file a RICO claim.

Our Charlotte racketeering defense attorneys are prepared to defend you from criminal and civil RICO charges. We understand the intricacies of RICO law and can aggressively fight to prove your innocence, avoiding significant fines and jailtime.

Laws Surrounding North Carolina Racketeering

North Carolina is one of several states to have their own set of racketeering laws distinct from RICO. Many of their statutes are similar to federal guidelines.

Like with RICO, North Carolina can choose to charge an individual with racketeering if they are suspected to have two qualifying offenses in connection with a criminal enterprise. Racketeering offenses also mirror RICO and include arson, bribery, kidnapping, illegal gambling, and more.

It is important to recognize that someone can be accused of racketeering even if they only facilitated transactions in service of a criminal enterprise. This act qualifies as money laundering, a criminal offense that falls under the racketeering categorization.

Get the Legal Support You Need

Whether you are facing a criminal or civil suit, federal RICO or state-level racketeering charges are not something you should face without qualified legal representation. Our Charlotte racketeering defense lawyers at Oakhurst Legal Group will work closely with you to understand the full scope of your case and identify innovative legal strategies that can protect your future. We are passionate about helping our clients overcome whatever charges they face and will do whatever it takes to clear your name.


Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling (704) 288-1003 or contacting us online. We offer our legal services in English, Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Russian.


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  • Darlene is flat out AMAZING.

    “I’m a community activist and get arrested regularly—there isn’t another person in Charlotte I want to defend my civil rights. She has won every one of my cases!”

    - Jennifer
  • Attorney Darlene Harris has been a trusted legal guide for many years.

    “I am assured that she is always defending and advising me with integrity and a thorough understanding of the law!”

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    Sherrod Seward of Oakhurst Legal Group successfully petitioned for E-2 investor visas for Finland national Ari Heikkinen and his spouse, Kaarina Heikkinen.

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    Client was found not guilty at trial due to a successful litigation strategy crafted and used by Attorney Harris.

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    Client charged with felony inciting a riot. After disputing the evidence presented by the D.A. and noting their obvious lack of evidence, this case was dismissed prior to trial.

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    Client charged with possession of marijuana for edible foods. After disputing the lack of evidence and proof in the case, charges were dismissed prior to trial.

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    Client charged with violating a local ordinance. Attorney Harris argued that the ordinance itself was unlawful therefore, in the interest of justice the case should be dismissed prior to trial.

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    We effectively petitioned for a three-year approval for Obaika Racing, LLC superstar Victor Obaika’s L-1A status.

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