California Racketeering Law

Racketeering is one of the most serious criminal charges that an individual can be arrested for. Individuals convicted of racketeering may spend the rest of their lives in prison and be subject to harsh forfeiture laws. These cases are sometimes connected to massively organized crime rings that kill dozens of people and commit hundreds of crimes. Understanding this charge, as well as the risks and penalties involved, can better help a defendant craft the most competent defense possible.

What is racketeering?

Racketeering is a crime connected to the commission and structure of organized crime. A racket is a money-making operation based on criminal activities or the threat of violence/harassment. Classic examples of rackets include protection rackets. Protection rackets are unlawful activities where businesses pay a gang to protect them from theft or harassment from that same gang. There are also drug, prostitution, and gambling rackets.

Racketeering is a practice of unlawful activities that contribute to one of those rackets or is generally associated with the illegal proceeds from rackets. It is worded as a broad statute in order to take away the protections that organized crime historically provided its leadership. In order to eliminate the need to directly tie criminal leaders to the crimes of their gangs, the racketeering statute was introduced to ensure that these individuals were still able to be arrested and convicted for the criminal activities they helped perpetrate.

What are the penalties associated with racketeering?

The penalties associated with violating racketeering and organized crime laws can be harsh. Individuals often go to prison for years or decades. The impact of the racketeering charge is directly related to the crimes associated with criminal profiteering activity. A criminal enterprise that commits murder could result in life in prison for the racketeers charged. Racketeering on the federal level is punishable by up to 20 years and a $25,000 fine for each count. Individuals are also subject to forfeiture laws which force them to forfeit any of their assets that could be tied to the crime. In addition to federal RICO Act laws against criminal profiteering activity, an individual may face state-level charges under the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act as well.

What to do

Any individual who is charged with racketeering under the RICO Act or the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act has a considerable amount of work ahead of them. Racketeering cases that enforce organized crime laws are often vast and complex. The government has to prove that there is an entire criminal enterprise that an individual is a part of. Individuals often have to hand over thousands of documents as well as provide many hours of testimony. But before any of that can begin, an individual is often arrested and booked. A judge holds a hearing and determines the bail that an individual will pay.

In some minor instances, an individual could be released on their own recognizance. But bail amounts for racketeering charges more often run into the tens of thousands or even millions of dollars. While such amounts are outside of the means of most people, this bail should be provided as quickly as possible. If bail cannot be reached on one’s own, an individual should use the services of a bail bondsman. A bail bondsman allows an individual to get out of jail if they pay 20% of their bail money to the bondsman. Such a procedure is vital for collecting the documents and conducting the plans needed to defend one’s self against a racketeering charge.


Securing bail is essential for anyone arrested for racketeering. The person arrested has to take their charges seriously. Perhaps the best first step after an arrest is to get out of jail by posting bail or securing a bond with a bail bondsman. Individuals who face racketeering charges can then secure their freedom in order to prepare for their best possible defense.

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