Knoxville Federal RICO Defense Lawyer


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Organized crime continues to be a serious problem throughout the United States. In 1978, the U.S. Congress enacted the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, which commonly came to be known as RICO. The primary purpose of this statute is to provide federal prosecutors with the legal tools that they need in order to combat organized crime which occurs across states lines.

If you are facing federal racketeering charges, time may be of the essence in your case, and it is essential that you seek legal representation in your criminal case as soon as possible. If you show up to court without a lawyer, a judge, in theory, could make you represent yourself and decline to postpone your criminal proceeding. Attorney John Barnes of Barnes Law can attend all of your criminal proceedings with you and represent you at all of these matters.


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Racketeering is sometimes also known as organized crime. It occurs when an organized group runs an illegal business, which is called a “racket.” Racketeering could also occur when an organized group of individuals implements a plan to embezzle funds using a legitimate organization.

These types of illegal plans and schemes can be devastating for various private and public institutions. Consequently, federal law does not treat racketeering crimes favorably, and if you are charged and ultimately convicted of such a crime, you will likely be facing significant penalties. An experienced criminal defense attorney could help by introducing a defense on your behalf and representing you at a sentencing hearing, in hopes of minimizing the consequences of your criminal conviction.


In days gone by, many racketeering schemes dealt with activities which were clearly illegal, including sex trafficking schemes, prostitution, trafficking of illegal weapons, drug trafficking crimes, and counterfeit schemes. Large groups of people were subsequently organized, and these individuals kept the scheme both discreet and profitable. Illegal products could then be made readily available to members of the public on such a grand scale that the authorities would not have the necessary resources available to make arrests and prosecute all of the individuals involved in the scheme.

More recently, however, organized crime filtered to other types of businesses and organizations. For example, labor unions were used as a means of stealing money from workers’ benefit accounts, including employee pension plans, and individuals involved in organized crime could then rise up the organization’s ranks. This, in turn, could lead to the company being ruined, as well as the lives of all employees and company shareholders who are dependent upon the organization.

Attorney John Barnes of Barnes Law will review the facts of your criminal case and can make sure that you understand all of your legal options – and the potential consequences – moving forward.


When it comes to federal racketeering charges, the federal prosecutor has the burden of proving the accused guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. Oftentimes, these federal RICO cases can involve a large number of individuals. Consequently, they may take a long time to prosecute.

Before RICO was passed by the United States Congress, it was difficult for federal prosecutors to go after individuals at the top of the schemes who acted as the “masterminds.” This is because it was difficult to connect them directly to the crimes which were being committed. Consequently, it was usually the individuals at the bottom tier of the scheme (those who were actually performing most of the illegal activities) who were getting prosecuted.

Since the passage of RICO, however, that dynamic has changed significantly. In order to convict someone of a federal racketeering charge, it is no longer necessary for the federal prosecutor to demonstrate that the criminal accused was personally responsible for committing the illegal activity at issue. Specifically, in order to satisfy his or her legal burden, the prosecutor must be able to demonstrate both of the following elements:

  • That the criminal accused, in fact, manages or owns a particular company or organization
  • That this company or organization performs one or more illegal activities on a regular and ongoing basis

If the federal prosecutor is unable to satisfy either one of these legal elements in the criminal case, the case could end up being dismissed.

When it comes to defending against a federal RICO charge, it is not necessary for the criminal accused to demonstrate or prove anything, since it is the prosecution which has the burden of proof in the case. The defense, however, may be able to formulate and put forth a powerful defense to the criminal RICO charge. Attorney John Barnes of Barnes Law could assist you with formulating and advancing that defense in court, thereby increasing your chances of obtaining a case dismissal.


In federal RICO cases – as in all federal criminal cases – time may be of the essence. Consequently, you should not delay in seeking out experienced legal representation for your trial and other criminal proceedings that occur during the course of your criminal case.

A conviction for racketeering at the federal level could also carry with it significant criminal penalties. Those potential penalties upon conviction might include jail time, hefty fines, and periods of supervised or unsupervised probation. A RICO conviction will also remain on your criminal record and could make it extremely difficult for you to achieve certain life or career goals. This is because prospective educational institutions and employers will discover your conviction after doing an online background search for criminal activity.

Knoxville attorney John Barnes of Barnes Law has significant experience defending criminal defendants against federal RICO charges and obtaining favorable outcomes in court on their behalf. To schedule a free consultation or case evaluation with a Knoxville criminal defense attorney about your pending federal RICO charge, please call us today at 865-234-3409, or contact us online.

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Client Testimonials

"John is amazing not only did he get the outcome he promised he did it in a shorter time than he originally said. He went above and beyond in returning my emails and phone calls. John and staff truly cared about me as a person. I highly recommend John Barnes."

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"I would highly recommend Mr. Barnes to everyone & I would definitely contact Mr. Barnes if I or anyone in my family should ever need an attorney again:) They were all very professional, friendly & treated our case with importance:) Mr.Barnes got my son’s DUI dropped to reckless driving so I would definitely recommend him to everyone!!!!!!!"

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"Mr. Barnes and his staff are amazing. I can’t imagine anyone doing a better job with my case. At no point in the long process was I disappointed in any way with how things were handled."

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