Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer
The United States federal government takes gang related activity very seriously, and federal law has a broad definition of the type of conduct that could be considered gang related activity. As our friends at the leading criminal defense law explain, certain types of criminal conduct may be subject to an enhanced sentence if the federal government believes that the criminal conduct is part of organized gang activity, as opposed to individual conduct. In addition to possible charges for the underlying criminal behavior, if there is evidence someone engaged in criminal activity in furtherance of a gang, separate charges or additional time in prison is a serious possibility.
In order to be considered gang related activity, participation in criminal conduct must involve a group of people with a purpose of engaging in criminal activity. There must also be evidence that the members of the group have continuously participated in criminal activity for the last several years. The criminal activity must also have an impact on interstate commerce or foreign commerce to be prosecuted by the federal government, though each individual state may also have their own gang related criminal laws prohibiting gang related activity that does not impact interstate or foreign commerce.
Another aspect of federal law that is related to federal criminal street gang charges is the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO. This law specifically targets individuals who participate in a pattern of “racketeering”, meaning conduct that is done on behalf of a larger criminal enterprise. The criminal conduct itself may include violent crimes like murder and kidnapping, financial crimes like bribery, extortion, or money laundering, and other types of criminal activity like drug trafficking or maintaining gambling rings. Under RICO laws, groups and organizations may face federal charges even if they’re not members of a gang; under the RICO laws, charges can be brought against organizations like businesses, clubs, or even churches, if the federal government believes the organization has been engaged in racketeering conduct.
If you believe that you or someone you know may be facing federal gang charges or federal RICO charges, your best option is to consult with a knowledgeable federal defense attorney who is familiar with these sorts of crimes. The federal government considers these very serious offenses and the potential sentences associated with gang and RICO offenses can be very high. Speaking with a criminal defense lawyer will allow you to better understand the charges and possible penalties and will help you make the most informed decision to fight your case.