Nevada NRS 207.400 defines racketeering (sometimes called RICO) as a criminal activity carried out in furtherance of an unlawful business. Racketeering is a category B felony carrying 2 to 20 years in prison, possible fines, and asset forfeiture of any proceeds from the criminal activity.
Racketeering is typically associated with drug lords, illegal gambling rings, the mafia, and any other organized crime syndicate.
NRS 207.400 states:
1. It is unlawful for a person:
(a) Who has with criminal intent received any proceeds derived, directly or indirectly, from racketeering activity to use or invest, whether directly or indirectly, any part of the proceeds, or the proceeds derived from the investment or use thereof, in the acquisition of:
(1) Any title to or any right, interest or equity in real property; or
(2) Any interest in or the establishment or operation of any enterprise.
(b) Through racketeering activity to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise.
(c) Who is employed by or associated with any enterprise to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in:
(1) The affairs of the enterprise through racketeering activity; or
(2) Racketeering activity through the affairs of the enterprise.
(d) Intentionally to organize, manage, direct, supervise or finance a criminal syndicate.
(e) Knowingly to incite or induce others to engage in violence or intimidation to promote or further the criminal objectives of the criminal syndicate.
(f) To furnish 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.
(g) Intentionally to promote or further 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.
(h) To transport property, to attempt to transport property or to provide property to another person knowing that the other person intends to use the property to further racketeering activity.
(i) Who knows that property represents proceeds of, or is directly or indirectly derived from, any unlawful activity to conduct or attempt to conduct any transaction involving the property:
(1) With the intent to further racketeering activity; or
(2) With the knowledge that the transaction conceals the location, source, ownership or control of the property.
(j) To conspire to violate any of the provisions of this section.
2. A person who violates this section is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 5 years and a maximum term of not more than 20 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $25,000.
3. As used in this section, “unlawful activity” has the meaning ascribed to it in NRS 207.195.
In this article, our experienced Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is the charge of racketeering in Nevada?
- 2. How do prosecutors prove racketeering?
- 3. What is the sentence for racketeering?
- 4. How do you fight NRS 207.400 charges?
- 5. Can I get deported?
- 6. Is the criminal record sealable?
- 7. How is federal law different?
1. What is the charge of racketeering in Nevada?
Nevada’s legal definition of racketeering is criminal activity carried out in furtherance of an unlawful business. Racketeering often involves illegal gambling rings, drug rings, or human trafficking rings.
Racketeering is not one isolated event. Racketeering is the commission, attempt, or conspiracy to commit at least two racketeering-related crimes within a five-year time span. And to fall under the definition of racketeering, these crimes must share common:
- methods of commission, and/or
- other distinguishing characteristics.1
Not every crime is a racketeering-related activity. For example, it is not racketeering when someone commits minor misdemeanors such as trespass in the course of an illegal business. Rather racketeering-related offenses in Nevada are limited to the following crimes:
- murder (NRS 200.030)
- voluntary manslaughter (NRS 202.050) or involuntary manslaughter (NRS 200.070)
- mayhem (NRS 200.280)
- felony battery (NRS 200.481)
- kidnapping (NRS 200.310)
- sexual assault (NRS 200.366)
- arson (NRS 205.010 – NRS 205.055)
- robbery (NRS 200.380)
- taking property from another under circumstances not amounting to robbery (see larceny from a person (NRS 205.270))
- extortion (NRS 205.320)
- statutory sexual seduction (NRS 200.368)
- extortionate collection of debt under NRS 205.322
- forgery (NRS 205.090), 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) (“identity theft”)
- establishing or possessing a financial forgery laboratory (NRS 205.46513) (Nevada SB 362 (2017))
- resisting public officer (NRS 199.280) as a felony
- burglary (NRS 205.060)
- grand larceny (NRS 205.220)
- bribery of public officer (NRS 197.010-040) as a felony or bribery of judicial officers and jurors (NRS 199.010 – 199.030) as a felony
- battery with intent to commit a crime (NRS 200.400)
- assault with a deadly weapon (NRS 200.471)
- various drug crimes under NRS 453.232, NRS 453.316 to NRS 453.339, inclusive, or 453.375 to NRS 453.401 (see drug possession (NRS 453.336), possessing drugs with intent to sell (NRS 453.337 & NRS 453.338), selling drugs (NRS 453.321), transporting drugs, drug trafficking (NRS 453.3385)
- receiving or transferring a stolen vehicle (NRS 205.273)
- various weapons crimes under NRS 202.260, NRS 202.275 or NRS 202.350 which are punished as a felony (see carrying concealed weapons (NRS 202.350))
- various gaming crimes under NRS 463.360 or NRS 465 (see cheating at gambling (NRS 465.083), unlawful acts regarding gaming equipment (NRS 465.085), and gaming fraud (NRS 465.070))
- receiving, possessing or withholding stolen goods (NRS 205.275) valued at $650 or more
- embezzlement of money or property (NRS 205.300) valued at $650 or more
- obtaining possession of money or property by false pretenses (NRS 205.380) valued at $650 or more, or obtaining a signature by means of false pretenses under NRS 205.390
- perjury or subornation of perjury (NRS 199.120)
- offering false evidence (NRS 199.210)
- sex trafficking (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
- involuntary servitude (NRS 200.463 & NRS 200.4631 & NRS 200.464 & NRS 200.465)
- human trafficking (NRS 200.467 & NRS 200.468)2
2. How do prosecutors prove racketeering?
In many Nevada racketeering cases, the key evidence of a defendant’s guilt is the money or property that he/she received as proceeds of the racketeering. Ultimately, a defendant can be convicted of racketeering if prosecutors can show beyond a reasonable doubt that either:
- the defendant – with criminal intent – received any proceeds derived from racketeering activity to acquire real estate or interest in any enterprise;
- the defendant transported property to another person knowing that the other person intends to use the property to further racketeering activity; and/or
- the defendant knowingly used proceeds from racketeering to conduct a transaction with the intent to further racketeering activity or with the knowledge that the transaction concealed the property’s origin
It is also considered racketeering if prosecutors can prove that either:
- the defendant intentionally organized, managed, directed, supervised or financed a criminal syndicate; or
- the defendant is employed or associated with any racketeering enterprise;
- the defendant knowingly induced others to use violence or intimidation to further a criminal syndicate’s objectives;
- the defendant assisted a criminal syndicate in any way with the intent to further its criminal objectives; and/or
- the defendant intentionally promoted a criminal syndicate’s objectives by inducing a public officer or employee to act in a certain way that violated his/her official duty3
Note that alleged violations of Nevada state racketeering law are prosecuted by the Nevada Attorney General rather than a county D.A.’s office.
3. What is the sentence for racketeering?
Racketeering is a category B felony in Nevada punishable by five to 20 years in Nevada State Prison. The judge can also impose a fine of up $25,000 or the greater of:
- 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).
The district court can also order that the defendant pay court costs and reasonable costs of the investigation and prosecution.4
Finally, racketeering defendants typically have to forfeit any real- or personal property they received through racketeering. As discussed below:
3.1. Criminal forfeiture proceedings
Following a racketeering conviction, the court will hold a separate hearing to determine the extent of the defendant’s property that will be forfeited. 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; and/or
- any amount payable or paid under any contract for goods or services which was awarded or performed in violation of Nevada racketeering laws
In some criminal cases, 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. When this happens, 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.5
Also note that defendants may also face civil actions with civil forfeiture proceedings from racketeering victims.
4. How do you fight NRS 207.400 charges?
Three common defenses to racketeering charges in Nevada are that:
- there was no criminal intent;
- the racketeering activities are not related; and/or
- the police committed misconduct
4.1. There was no criminal intent
A defendant is not guilty of racketeering unless he/she knowingly conducted activities that amounted to racketeering. For example, employees of a seemingly lawful business that fronted for a criminal enterprise broke no law as long as they were genuinely unaware of the illegal underground business.
4.2. The racketeering activities are not related
A defendant may be convicted under NRS 207.400 only if the multiple racketeering crimes he/she allegedly committed were interrelated. If the prosecution fails to prove that these activities were interdependent incidents, then criminal charges should not stand.
4.3. The police acted illegally
Prosecutors depend heavily on invasive police searches to unearth evidence to help prove racketeering charges. But sometimes law enforcement officers sidestep proper warrant procedures and seize evidence unlawfully.
In these cases, the defense attorney would file a 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.
5. Can I get deported?
Yes. Racketeering is a deportable offense.6 Therefore, non-citizens facing racketeering charges should consult an attorney immediately to attempt to get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
6. Is the criminal record sealable?
Racketeering convictions are typically sealable five years after the case ends. But if the charges gets dismissed, there is no waiting period before the defendant can petition the court to seal the record.7
Learn about how to seal Nevada criminal records.
7. How is federal law different?
Racketeering is both a federal crime and a Nevada state crime. The federal law criminalizing racketeering is called the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) under Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. RICO crimes typically involve money laundering, wire fraud, and bank fraud.
Federal racketeering RICO laws are largely similar to Nevada state 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; and/or
- Orchestrating or taking part in an enterprise carrying out racketeering or collection of an unlawful debt.
There is one major distinction between state and federal racketeering law: Unlike Nevada law which requires unlawful activities to take place within five years of each other to be prosecutable as racketeering, RICO expands the time frame to ten years.
- Nevada Revised Statute 207.390. See also Siragusa v. Brown, (Nevada Supreme Court, 1998) 114 Nev. 1384, 971 P.2d 801, 114 Nev. Adv. Rep. 147.
- NRS 207.360. See also In re Stratosphere Corp. Sec. Litig., (D. Nev. 1999) 66 F. Supp. 2d 1182.
- NRS 207.400.
- NRS 207.400, subsection 2.
- NRS 207.420 – 510.
- See 8 USC 1227.
- NRS 179.245; NRS 179.255.
- 18 U.S.C. §§1961-68.