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Federal RICO and Conspiracy Appeals

Federal Appeals Lawyers Handling RICO and Conspiracy Cases Nationwide

Linda Julin McNamara
Attorney Linda Julin McNamara
Federal RICO and Conspiracy Appeals Team Lead
Former Deputy Chief, Appellate Division
Elizabeth Stepp
Attorney Elizabeth K. Stepp
Federal RICO and Conspiracy Appeals Team
Partner & Yale Graduate
Nick Oberheiden
Attorney Nick Oberheiden
Federal RICO and Conspiracy Appeals Team
envelope iconContact Nick

Congress passed the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act in 1970 to combat the wave of organized crime spreading from the northeast to other regions across the United States. While similar types of organized crime still exist today, racketeering isn’t the concern it once was—but this hasn’t stopped the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) from continuing to use the RICO Act as a tool for criminal prosecution.

Today, the DOJ uses the RICO Act to prosecute individuals and organizations for an extremely broad range of criminal activities. This includes organized criminal activities such as drug distribution and human trafficking, but it also includes a wide range of far-less-organized criminal conspiracies. The DOJ can pursue conspiracy-related charges under a variety of other federal statutes as well, and these statutes allow prosecutors to pursue serious criminal charges against entities and individuals that are only tangentially involved in alleged criminal enterprises.

Convictions under the RICO Act and the various other federal conspiracy statutes are valid in many cases. But, in some cases, they are not. Sentences imposed under these statutes can also exceed what the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and the U.S. Constitution allow. As a result, if you have been convicted under the RICO Act or any other federal conspiracy statute, it is important that you speak with an experienced federal appeals lawyer right away.

Our Federal Appeals Lawyers Have Extensive Experience in RICO and Conspiracy Cases

At Oberheiden P.C., we have extensive experience handling cases under the RICO Act and all other federal conspiracy statutes. This includes experience at all stages of investigation, trial, and appeal. Since many of our lawyers worked for the DOJ before entering private practice, we understand these cases from the government’s point of view, and we are able to use these insights strategically when pursuing RICO and conspiracy appeals on behalf of our clients.

In all cases, appeals under the RICO Act and other federal conspiracy statutes require knowledgeable, strategic, and forward-thinking legal representation. At Oberheiden P.C., we offer:

  • Prior Experience as DOJ Prosecutors – As former federal prosecutors, many of our lawyers have first-hand knowledge of how the DOJ prosecutes RICO and other conspiracy cases. The insights from this experience often prove crucial when representing clients on appeal.
  • Experience Defending Clients During RICO Prosecutions – Along with handling federal RICO and conspiracy appeals, we also defend clients facing these charges during federal investigations and criminal trials. As a result, we know what can go wrong before and during trial, and we are able to use this knowledge to assist with identifying grounds for appeal.
  • Extensive Experience Handling White-Collar Federal Appeals – We have extensive experience representing clients during all types of federal white-collar criminal appeals. This includes representing clients charged with RICO violations, conspiracy, and other related offenses.
  • A Team Approach to High-Stakes Federal Appeals – As a result of our lawyers’ extensive and varied experience, we take a team approach to our clients’ high-stakes federal appeals. By bringing together our lawyers’ knowledge and insights, we maximize both the efficiency and the efficacy of our appellate representation.
  • Custom-Tailored Appellate Strategies – All federal appeals require a custom-tailored approach. There is no one argument or strategy that works in all cases. By focusing on the events leading up to and during our clients’ trials, we present compelling cases that reflect the specific substantive and procedural issues at hand.

Put our highly experienced team on your side

Dr. Nick Oberheiden
Dr. Nick Oberheiden



Lynette S. Byrd
Lynette S. Byrd

Former DOJ Trial Attorney


Brian J. Kuester
Brian J. Kuester

Former U.S. Attorney

Amanda Marshall
Amanda Marshall

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

Joe Brown
Joe Brown

Former U.S. Attorney

Local Counsel

John W. Sellers
John W. Sellers

Former Senior DOJ Trial Attorney

Linda Julin McNamara
Linda Julin McNamara

Federal Appeals Attorney

Aaron L. Wiley
Aaron L. Wiley

Former DOJ attorney

Local Counsel

Roger Bach
Roger Bach

Former Special Agent (DOJ)

Chris Quick
Chris J. Quick

Former Special Agent (FBI & IRS-CI)

Michael S. Koslow
Michael S. Koslow

Former Supervisory Special Agent (DOD-OIG)

Ray Yuen
Ray Yuen

Former Supervisory Special Agent (FBI)

Appealing a Federal RICO or Criminal Conspiracy Conviction

When considering an appeal of a federal RICO or criminal conspiracy conviction, it is important to have a clear understanding of the nature of a federal appeal. Contrary to popular belief, an appeal is not a retrial. Instead, the appellate court evaluates certain substantive and procedural aspects of the defendant’s trial; then, based on this evaluation, the appellate court determines if the defendant’s conviction was unjust. If the appellate court determines the defendant’s conviction was unjust, it can vacate the defendant’s conviction, but it can also reverse and remand the case for further proceedings (which may or may not involve a complete retrial) at the trial level.

So, what are the grounds for appealing a conviction under the RICO Act or another federal conspiracy statute? As we mentioned, what transpires during the pretrial and trial proceedings is much more important than the substantive nature of the case itself. With this in mind, some examples of potential grounds for challenging a federal RICO or criminal conspiracy conviction on appeal include:

  • The judge improperly allowed or excused jurors during voir dire (jury selection)
  • The judge improperly admitted or excluded evidence (either before or during trial)
  • The judge improperly ruled on substantive or procedural pretrial or trial motions (either granting a prosecution motion or denying a defense motion)
  • The judge or jury reached a verdict against the weight of the evidence

Each of these grounds for appeal requires the appellant to prove a variety of specific elements—all while anticipating the arguments that the DOJ will put forth to preserve its conviction. Filing a successful appeal in any federal criminal case requires an in-depth understanding of the trial record as well as the relevant federal laws, statutes, and constitutional principles. Due to the unique nature of federal appeals, as well as the substantial risks of having a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction upheld, it is imperative that defendants seeking to challenge their convictions engage highly experienced federal appellate counsel.

Appealing Your Sentence After a Federal RICO or Conspiracy Conviction

In some cases, defendants will not have valid grounds to challenge their federal RICO or conspiracy convictions, but they will have grounds to challenge their sentence. Grounds for appealing a federal criminal sentence include failure to adhere to the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and violation of the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment. As RICO and the federal conspiracy statutes impose substantial penalties, appealing a sentence can afford substantial relief in many cases, and it can also potentially spur negotiations with the DOJ.

For example, even in the absence of grounds to challenge a conviction (which absence should never be presumed), it may still be well worth appealing a criminal sentence under:

  • 18 U.S.C. Section 371 (Conspiracy to Commit Offense or to Defraud the United States)
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 1349 (Attempt and Conspiracy)
  • 18 U.S.C. Section 1961 et. seq. (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act)
  • 21 U.S.C. Section 848 (Continuing Criminal Enterprise)

When you engage Oberheiden P.C., our federal appellate lawyers will examine all potential grounds to file an appeal in your case—including grounds to appeal your conviction and grounds to appeal your sentence. We will also evaluate the possibilities for obtaining an acquittal or having your judgment vacated at the trial level; and, if necessary, we can examine your options for seeking post-conviction relief (i.e., if the deadline to file trial-level motions and a notice of appeal has expired).

FAQs: Appealing a Federal RICO or Conspiracy Conviction (or Sentence)

When is it worth appealing a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction?


Whether it is worth filing an appeal following a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction depends on the circumstances at hand. While it will be well worth appealing in many cases, deciding whether (and how) to pursue an appeal requires a careful review of the trial record by experienced federal appellate counsel.

What are the possible outcomes of a federal RICO or criminal conspiracy appeal?


A federal RICO or criminal conspiracy appeal can have a variety of different outcomes. Of course, the appellate court could affirm your conviction, in which case you will need to evaluate the viability of taking your case to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alternatively, the appellate court may reverse your conviction and remand your case for further proceedings, or it may vacate your conviction entirely.

How do I appeal a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction?


The first step for appealing a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction is to file a notice of appeal. This form pleading must be filed in the appropriate court, and it must contain all required information in order to effectively preserve your appellate rights.

How long do I have to appeal a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction?


Following a federal criminal conviction, the deadline to file a notice of appeal is 14 days. Filing a notice of appeal preserves your rights, and is just the first step in a multi-step process of seeking to overturn your federal RICO or criminal conspiracy conviction.

Do I need an appellate law firm to appeal my federal RICO or conspiracy conviction?


When seeking to appeal a federal RICO or conspiracy conviction, it is important to choose a law firm that specifically handles federal criminal appeals. The firm does not need to handle federal criminal appeals exclusively, but this should account for a significant portion of its practice.

Talk to a Federal Appeals Lawyer About Your RICO or conspiracy Conviction

If you need to speak with a lawyer about appealing your federal RICO or criminal conspiracy conviction, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. Call 888-680-1745 or inquire online to speak with a senior federal appeals lawyer at Oberheiden P.C. in confidence.

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