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Tennessee Racketeering and Organized Crime Laws

The offense of racketeering is often used to describe criminal activities related to organized crime or drug trafficking. While that's true for many racketeering violations, there are other ways to be charged with this crime. Simply put, racketeering generally involves the connection of various crimes through the operation of a criminal enterprise or outlet.

Racketeering activities at the federal level are defined by federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), but racketeering crimes are prosecuted under state laws as well. In fact, many states model their own racketeering laws after the federal RICO laws and, because of this, state racketeering laws share many similarities among the states. However, a state may use its own unique definition for when racketeering exists. For instance, in Tennessee, the definition of racketeering specifically requires one's association as a member of a gang as a criminal enterprise.

An Explanation of Tennessee Racketeering/Organized Crime Laws

When you need a quick answer to a legal question it's useful to read an explanation of the law written in simple language before reading the relevant statutes in their entirety. The following chart serves this purpose. Read on for a concise explanation of racketeering laws in Tennessee.


Tennessee Code Annotated:




Tennessee's "Pattern of Racketeering Activity"

This pattern requires at least 2 incidents of racketeering conduct that have the same or similar intents, results, victims, accomplices, or methods of commission, or which are otherwise interrelated by distinguished characteristics and aren't isolated incidents and where:

  • At least 1 of the incidents occurred after July 1, 1986; and
  • The last of the incidents occurred within 2 years after a prior incident of racketeering conduct.

Racketeering Activity

Racketeering activity involves any means to commit or attempt to commit or conspire to commit, or to solicit, coerce or intimidate another person to commit:

Unlawful Debt

Means any money or other thing of value constituting principal or interest of a debt that is legally unenforceable in Tennessee because the debt was incurred or contracted involving the following:

  • Controlled substances violations as determined by the statute;
  • Trafficking for commercial sex acts;
  • Promoting prostitution;
  • Patronizing prostitution;
  • Solicitation of a minor; or
  • Soliciting sexual exploitation of a minor, exploitation of a minor by electronic means.

What's Prohibited

Unlawful Actions

  • Receiving any proceeds derived from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt, to use to gain title to an interest in real or personal property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise.
  • Through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt, acquiring or maintaining an interest in or control of any enterprise of real or personal property.
  • Being employed by, or associated with, any enterprise and knowingly conducting or participating in the enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of any unlawful debt.

Possible Penalties

The actual penalties will depend on the specific circumstances of your case, but will include factors such as your criminal history and the underlying racketeering activities.
Possible penalties may include the following:

  • Incarceration
  • Fines
  • Forfeiture of assets

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.

Tennessee Racketeering and Organized Crime Laws: Related Resources

Talk to an Attorney about Racketeering Charges in Tennessee

If you're convicted under Tennessee's racketeering laws, then you could be facing a prison sentence, among other penalties. Anytime that you face the possibility of incarceration, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who assess the strength of your case and be your strongest advocate with the court.

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