Some states using RICO statute to put an end to dog fighting

On behalf of The Marks Law Firm, L.L.C. posted in Conspiracy on Wednesday, July 25, 2012

In 2009, federal authorities infiltrated a dog fighting ring that spread across numerous states. One of those states was Missouri. Since this dog fighting bust, some states have been making an aggressive attempt at preventing dog fighting. Some have gone so far as to declare dog fighting a violation of federal criminal law under the RICO statute.

The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization statute prohibits criminal organizations from profiting from a legitimate business operation. The law is usually used to combat organized crime. The main goals of the RICO statute are to cut-off sources of funding and effectively end the organized crime activity.

Some states have begun to consider dog fighting an organized crime and have, therefore, included it as a violation of the RICO statute. Although Missouri has not yet passed such legislation, its close neighbor, Illinois, has done so. This may mean that it is only a matter of time before Missouri passes a similar law.

Violation of RICO or another anti-racketeering law can be devastating to the future of the accused. It may mean a damaged reputation, prison time, probation, monetary fines and much more. However, a person accused of committing a crime, such as dog fighting, should not feel hopeless and give up. Those accused of such crimes have options to defend their rights.

A vigorous defense can mean the mitigation or elimination of punishment. There is always the possibility for negotiation and plea deals. In addition, it is important to investigate the entire case as the accused is entitled to rights under the U.S. Constitution. If these rights are not upheld, it can mean the dismissal of a case altogether.

RICO statutes may continue to encompass more crimes as legislatures broaden the area of coverage. However, with a proper defense, those accused of RICO violations may face reduced charges and lesser penalties.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “Efforts to combat dogfighting gain major ally in RICO statute,” Erin Meyer, July 16, 2012