Racketeering Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Racketeering, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Racketeering?

(n) Racketeering is defined as the process of forming or running an organization to operate or commit or otherwise execute ongoing criminal activities. For example the drug mafia planning and executing drug traffic in an organized manner. Such crimes are generally illegitimate business

History and Meaning of Racketeering

Racketeering is a term that originated in the United States in the 1920s and 30s during the era of organized crime in the country. The term refers to the act of operating an organized criminal enterprise or using extortion or coercion to control a legitimate enterprise. In essence, racketeering involves the use of illegal or unethical means to achieve financial gain or power.

Under U.S. law, racketeering is a federal crime, and prosecutors often use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act to bring charges against individuals and organizations engaged in racketeering. The RICO Act was passed in 1970 and allows the government to prosecute individuals who have committed two or more acts of racketeering within a ten-year period.

Examples of Racketeering

  1. A group of individuals operates a construction company and uses violence and intimidation to gain control of various construction projects in the city.
  2. An organized criminal group runs a protection racket, demanding payment from local businesses in exchange for "protection" from harm.
  3. A corrupt business executive embezzles company funds for personal gain and engages in insider trading to profit from the company's activities.

Legal Terms Similar to Racketeering

  1. Organized crime: a group of individuals that operates as a criminal enterprise to engage in illegal activities such as racketeering.
  2. Extortion: the act of obtaining something, typically money, through force or threats.
  3. Corruption: the use of power or influence for personal gain, often in a way that is unethical or illegal.