The word "racketeering" often conjures up images of drug trafficking and organized crime. This comes from the long-time association of crime rings with offenses such as gambling, prostitution, burglary, or other crimes traditionally referred to as "rackets" - hence the term "racketeering." Although there's validity to the association, racketeering is a broad-based crime that includes offenses of all kinds.
Federal prosecutors can use RICO laws to join all of an offender's criminal enterprises and combine them into a single transaction for prosecution. Although racketeering often involves federal crimes, it's also prosecuted through state laws. As in other states, Washington law mirrors the federal RICO laws. Washington's "criminal profiteering" is equivalent to racketeering and includes the commission (or attempted commission), for financial gain, of any one of several crimes listed in the statute.
Explanation of Washington Racketeering Laws
One of the best ways to understand the full extent of the law in a statute is to work with an attorney. However, you can get a solid introduction to the law with an helpful explanation written in plain language. See the chart below for important information about Washington's racketeering laws.
Washington Revised Code:
- Section 9A:82.010 (definitions)
- Section 9A:82.080 (use of proceeds of criminal profiteering)
- Section 9A:82.120 (criminal profiteering lien)
Elements of the Crime
Pattern of profiteering activity:
- Engaging in at least 3 acts of "criminal profiteering" within 5 years shows a "pattern of profiteering."
- The acts of profiteering have the same or similar intent, results, victims, accomplices, principals, victims or methods of commission, or are otherwise interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and must not be isolated events.
- At least one of the incidents occurred after July 1,1985, and the last of which occurred within 5 years, excluding any period of imprisonment, after the commission of the earliest act of criminal profiteering.
Examples of acts of criminal profiteering include (but aren't limited to) the following:
- Securities fraud
- Trafficking in stolen property
- Obstructing investigations
- Sexual exploitation of children
- Identity theft
Possible Penalties and Sentencing
The actual penalties will depend on the specific facts of the case and are determined by the Sentencing Reform Act and state guidelines.
Possible penalties may include the following:
- Forfeiture of assets
- Property liens
- Restitution to the victims
- Civil damages
Washington Revised Code:
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.
Washington Racketeering Laws: Related Resources
Worried about Racketeering Charges in Washington? Get an Attorney
The basic feature of racketeering is involvement in continuous criminal activity. If you're being investigated for breaking Washington's racketeering laws, then you're facing harsh consequences if convicted. You should consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney in your area immediately to get a handle on your case and find the best way to fight the charges against you.