Racketeering is both a state and federal crime carrying up to 20 years in prison.
Racketeering is prosecuted very aggressively in Nevada. A conviction may carry thousands of dollars in fines, several years in prison, and forfeiture of the defendant's assets. But a seasoned Las Vegas criminal defense attorney may be able to achieve a favorable resolution where the defendant remains out of custody and keeps their property.
Below is a summary of the Nevada crime of racketeering. Keep reading to learn the state and federal law, common defenses and potential penalties.
The legal definition of "racketeering" in Las Vegas, Nevada, refers to criminal activity that's carried out in furtherance of an unlawful business. Typical examples of unlawful businesses that engage in racketeering include illegal gambling rings, the mafia and any other organized crime syndicate.
What qualifies as racketeering:
Racketeering in Nevada isn't one isolated event . . . it's the commission, attempt, or conspiracy to commit at least two (2) racketeering-related crimes within a five (5) years span. These crimes also must share common patterns, intents, results, accomplices, victims, methods of commission, or other distinguishing characteristics in order to fall under the definition of racketeering.
Not every crime may be considered a racketeering-related activity. For instance, it's not racketeering when someone gets a speeding ticket or commits a trespass in the course of an illegal business. Rather racketeering-related offenses in Nevada are limited to the following crimes:
- Nevada crime of murder (NRS 200.303)
- Nevada crime of voluntary manslaughter (NRS 200.050) or Nevada crime of involuntary manslaughter (NRS 200.070)
- Nevada crime of mayhem (NRS 200.280)
- Nevada crime of felony battery (NRS 200.481)
- Nevada crime of kidnapping (NRS 200.310)
- Nevada crime of sexual assault (NRS 200.366)
- Nevada crime of arson (NRS 205.010 - 205.055)
- Nevada crime of robbery (NRS 200.380)
- Taking property from another under circumstances not amounting to robbery (see Nevada crime of larceny from a person | NRS 205.270)
- Nevada crime of extortion (NRS 205.320)
- Nevada crime of statutory sexual seduction (NRS 200.368)
- Extortionate collection of debt under NRS 205.322 (see Nevada crime of extortion | NRS 200.320)
- Nevada crime of forgery, including, without limitation, forgery of a credit card or debit card (NRS 205.740)
- Obtaining and using personal identifying information of another person (NRS 205.463)
- Establishing or possessing a financial forgery laboratory (NRS 205.46513) (Nevada SB 362 (2017))
- Nevada crime of resisting public officer as a felony (NRS 199.280)
- Nevada crime of burglary (NRS 205.060)
- Nevada crime of grand larceny (NRS 205.220)
- Nevada crime of bribery of public officer as a felony (NRS 197.010-040) or Nevada crime of bribery of judicial officers and jurors as a felony (NRS 199.010 - 199.030)
- Battery with intent to commit a crime under NRS 200.400 (see Nevada battery penalties)
- Nevada crime of assault with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.471)
- Various drug crimes under NRS 453.232, NRS 453.316 to NRS 453.3395, inclusive, or 453.375 to NRS 453.401 (see Nevada crime of drug possession, Nevada crime of possessing drugs with intent to sell, Nevada crime of selling drugs, Nevada crime of transporting drugs, Nevada crime of drug trafficking)
- Nevada crime of receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle (NRS 200.273)
- Various weapons crimes under NRS 202.260, NRS 202.275 or NRS 202.350 which are punished as a felony (see Nevada crime of carrying concealed weapons)
- Various gaming crimes under NRS 463.360 or NRS 465
- Nevada crime of receiving, possessing or withholding stolen goods valued at $650 or more (NRS 205.275)
- Nevada crime of embezzlement of money or property valued at $650 or more (NRS 205.300)
- Nevada crime of obtaining possession of money or property by false pretenses valued at $650 or more (NRS 205.380) or obtaining a signature by means of false pretenses under NRS 205.390
- Nevada crime of perjury or subornation of perjury (NRS 199.120)
- Nevada crime of offering false evidence (NRS 199.210)
- Nevada crime of pandering (NRS 201.300), living off the earnings of a prostitute (NRS 201.310), or placing a person in a house of prostitution under NRS 201.360
- Various securities, commodities and trade crimes under NRS 90.570, NRS 91.230 or NRS 686A.290, or insurance fraud pursuant to NRS 686A.291
- Various crimes concerning information services and telephones under NRS 205.506, NRS 205.920 or NRS 205.930
- Various terrorism crimes under NRS 202.445 or NRS 202.446
- Multiple transactions involving fraud or deceit in course of enterprise or occupation under NRS 205.377
- Nevada crime of Involuntary Servitude (NRS 200.463; 200.464; 200.465)
- Nevada crime of Human Trafficking (NRS 200.467; 200.468)
Racketeering as a crime:
The Nevada crime of racketeering encompasses a very broad range of behaviors directly or indirectly related to unlawful activity. A defendant may be convicted of violating NRS 207.400 if a Las Vegas Court finds him/her guilty of any of the following actions:
- The defendant with criminal intent received any proceeds derived from racketeering to use or invest any part of the proceeds in the acquisition of any interest in real property or the establishment or operation of any enterprise.
- The defendant acquired or maintained through racketeering any interest in or control of any enterprise.
- The defendant was employed or associated with any enterprise to conduct or participate in either:
- the affairs of the enterprise through racketeering activity; or
- racketeering activity through the affairs of the enterprise.
- The defendant intentionally organized, managed, directed, supervised or financed a criminal syndicate.
- The defendant knowingly incited or induced others to engage in violence or intimidation to promote or further the criminal objectives of the criminal syndicate.
- The defendant furnished advice, assistance or direction in the conduct, financing or management of the affairs of the criminal syndicate with the intent to promote or further the criminal objectives of the syndicate.
- The defendant intentionally promoted or furthered the criminal objectives of a criminal syndicate by inducing the commission of an act (or the omission of an act) by a public officer or employee which violates his or her official duty.
- The defendant transported property, attempted to transport property, or provided property to another person knowing that the other person intended to use the property to further racketeering activity.
- The defendant conducted (or attempted to conduct) a transaction involving property he/she knew was proceeds of unlawful activity either with intent to further racketeering activity or with the knowledge that the transaction concealed the location, source, ownership or control of the property.
Note that it's also considered racketeering in Nevada merely to conspire to commit any of the above actions even if nothing ever comes of it. Learn more in our article about Nevada conspiracy law.
Also note that alleged violations of Nevada state racketeering law are prosecuted by the Nevada Attorney General rather than the D.A.'s office.
Racketeering is a federal crime in addition to a Nevada state crime. The federal law criminalizing racketeering is called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act under Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 (18 U.S.C. §§1961-68).
Federal law is largely similar to Nevada law. It punishes the commission or attempted commission of three different racketeering offenses:
- directly or indirectly investing proceeds either obtained from racketeering or collected through an unlawful debt in any enterprise that affects trade or commerce
- acquiring or maintaining any interest in an enterprise through racketeering or collecting unlawful debt
- orchestrating or taking part in an enterprise carrying out racketeering or collection of an unlawful debt
There's one major distinction between state and federal racketeering law: Unlike Nevada law which requires unlawful activities to take place within five (5) years of each other to be prosecutable as racketeering, RICO expands the time frame to ten (10) years.
For more information, Federal racketeering law, go to our page on Federal racketeering law.
Racketeering is an extremely complex crime, and the best way to fight allegations depends on the specific circumstances of the individual case. Typical defenses include the following;
- The racketeering activities aren't related. A person may be convicted under NRS 207.400 only if the racketeering crimes he/she allegedly committed were interrelated. If the prosecution fails to prove that these activities were not independent, unrelated incidents, then racketeering charges should not stand.
- There was no criminal intent. A person is not guilty of racketeering unless he/she knowingly conducted activities that amounted to racketeering. As long as the prosecution can't show beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant acted with criminal intent, then the charges should be dropped.
- The police acted illegally. Prosecutors depend heavily on invasive police searches to unearth evidence to help prove racketeering charges. But sometimes cops sidestep proper warrant procedures and seize evidence unlawfully. In these cases the defense attorney would file a Nevada motion to suppress evidence asking the court to disregard the illegally taken evidence. If the court agrees, the prosecution may be left with insufficient evidence to obtain a guilty verdict.
- up to $25,000, or
- up to three times the gross pecuniary value the defendant gained or up to three times any gross loss the defendant caused (including property damage and personal injury but excluding any pain and suffering), whichever is greater. The defendant may also be ordered to pay court costs and reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution. And if any of the defendant's property is forfeited, that property value must be subtracted from the final fine.
Note that federal penalties for violating RICO also include up to 20 years in federal prison and a $250,000 fine. And in both state and federal court the defendant must forfeit their proceeds from the racketeering:
Criminal Forfeiture penalties
Following a racketeering conviction, the court will hold a separate hearing to determine the extent of the defendant's property that will be forfeited. (Note that property may not be forfeited if the prosecution neglected to allege at the beginning of the case that the defendant had property derived from or used in racketeering activity.)
Property that is typically subject to criminal forfeiture following a racketeering conviction includes the following:
- any title or interest acquired or maintained by the racketeering
- any proceeds derived from the racketeering
- any property or contractual right which affords a source of influence over any enterprise established, operated, controlled, participated in or conducted in the racketeering activity
- any compensation, right or benefit derived from a position, office, appointment, tenure or contract of employment that accrued to the defendant during the period of unlawful conduct
- any amount payable or paid under any contract for goods or services which was awarded or performed in violation of Nevada racketeering law
In cases where the racketeering-related property cannot be located, has been sold, is beyond the court's jurisdiction, has significantly diminished in value or has been irrevocably commingled with another's property, the court will order the forfeiture of other property belonging to the defendant to make up for it.
Note that a defendant's property may be seized at the beginning of a racketeering case in order to preserve it for forfeiture in the event of a guilty verdict. If the defendant is not convicted the property should be returned. Otherwise, the case proceeds to the forfeiture hearing.
Also, note that the defendant in racketeering cases may face civil suits as well. People who allegedly sustained damages from racketeering activity may receive up to three times their actual losses and force civil forfeiture of the defendant's assets. See our article about Nevada asset forfeiture laws.
Arrested? Call for help . . . .
If you've been accused of 'racketeering' under NRS 207.400 in Nevada, call
Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673). They can schedule a free consultation to discuss how possibly to negotiate a charge reduction or dismissal. And if you choose they can take the matter all the way to a trial in pursuit of a "not guilty" verdict.