A "racket" is an organized criminal act, which can involve anything from money laundering to drug trafficking. When a person conducts a racket, it's called "racketeering." Racketeering occurs either by, or on behalf of, a criminal organization or enterprise. In addition to the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), many states - including Colorado - have enacted laws addressing racketeering.
Terms Related to Racketeering
To better understand racketeering laws in Colorado, it's important to know the terms actually used in the statutes. Here are some key terms related to racketeering:
- Enterprise: an individual, corporation, sole proprietorship, partnership, union, or association, or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity.
- Pattern of racketeering activity: engaging in at least two racketeering activities which are related to the conduct of the enterprise.
- Unlawful debt: a debt that's been incurred in an illegal gambling activity or business, or one that's unenforceable because it violates usury laws.
Racketeering activities can include a variety of crimes, including offenses against the person, computer crimes, offenses involving governmental operations, to name a few. For details about which specific crimes are considered racketeering activities, please see Section 18-17-103.
Colorado Racketeering Laws at a Glance
Statutory language is rarely clear and straightforward, which is why it's helpful to read an overview of the law in addition to reading its actual text. The following chart contains such an overview for racketeering laws in Colorado as well as links to applicable statutes.
Colorado Revised Statutes, Title 18. Article 17, Section 18-17-101, et seq. (Colorado Organized Crime Control Act)
The following activities are prohibited by Colorado racketeering laws:
- Using or investing proceeds that are known to have been derived from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt.
- Knowingly acquiring or maintaining any interest in or control of any enterprise or real property through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt.
- While being employed by or associated with any enterprise, knowingly conducting or participating in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt.
It's also unlawful for a person to conspire to engage in any of the activities listed above.
Violation of Colorado racketeering laws is a class 2 felony.
The criminal penalties for racketeering include:
- 8 to 24 years of imprisonment;
- fines of up to $25,000*; and
- forfeiture of any interest that was acquired because of the prohibited activities discussed above.
*Please see Section 18-17-105 for other alternative fines.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
Colorado Racketeering Laws: Related Resources
If you'd like to learn more information related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.
Charged with Racketeering in Colorado? Get Legal Help
If you've been charged with racketeering or any other crime in Colorado, it's in your best interest to consult with a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and learn about your options moving forward.