The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is a federal law meant to allow easier prosecution of criminal organizations, but these laws may also apply to other types of suspected criminal conspiracy. Many states, including Texas, have also enacted their own RICO laws.
As FindLaw explains, Texas residents may face RICO charges from either the federal government or the state.
The RICO act allows prosecutors to pursue someone for the crime of an associate in some cases. Even if you have not committed a crime personally, the federal or state government may pursue charges against you if they believe that you have some involvement in racketeering, you conspired with the alleged perpetrator or are criminally involved in an organization that led to the alleged crime.
The government created these laws to make it easier to prosecute criminal organizations like the mob for crimes they had others commit on their behalf, but RICO laws can apply to less high-profile situations, as well.
RICO may enable prosecutors to go after you if they believe you participated in a criminal conspiracy, even if you did not commit the crime yourself. RICO also allows prosecutors to increase the severity of charges for crimes that they believe are the result of criminal conspiracy. In other words, a second degree felony may become a first degree felony if they can successfully prove that it involved a criminal conspiracy.
Defendants facing RICO charges typically have two defenses. They may argue that they were not a member of the criminal organization in question, or they may argue that they did not knowingly facilitate a criminal agenda.
Ultimately, the defenses available to a defendant will depend on the unique circumstances of the charges against them and the alleged crime in question. It will also depend on the evidence the prosecutors have linking the defendant to the crime or criminal organization.