RICO, We Have a Problem: Kansas Court of Appeals Finds That Juvenile Adjudications Are Included in the Definition of “Racketeering Activity” Under the Kansas RICO Act.

State v. Dixon, No. 125,992 WL 1335680 (Kan. Mar. 29, 2024).

Author: Claire Burns, Staff Editor

Issue: Under the Kansas Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“Kansas RICO Act”), does the definition of “racketeering activity” include juvenile adjudications?

Answer: Yes, the plain language of Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6328(f)(1) of the Kansas RICO Act defines “racketeering activity” to encompass juvenile adjudications.

Facts: In 2012, Erik Nahshon Dixon, a minor at the time, joined the Insane Crips. He was involved in criminal activity associated with the gang over the next several years. In 2016, the Wichita Police began investigating Dixon’s alleged involvement in a series of gang-related shootings. Later that year, law enforcement executed a search warrant at Dixon’s apartment. The search uncovered drugs, a ledger, firearms, and cash. In 2017, law enforcement executed another search warrant and found more drugs, firearms, and cash. The United States charged Dixon, and Dixon pleaded guilty to possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. In 2019, Kansas charged Dixon and eight others with violating the Kansas RICO Act by conducting or participating directly or indirectly in a pattern of racketeering activity. Two of the predicate offenses were juvenile adjudications. Before trial, Dixon moved to dismiss the State’s case on the grounds that juvenile adjudications may not serve as the predicate offenses under the Kansas RICO Act. The district court denied the motion to dismiss, and the jury subsequently found Dixon guilty. Dixon timely appealed the district court’s judgment, arguing that the two predicate juvenile adjudications are not within the definition of “racketeering activity” under the Kansas RICO Act.

Discussion: The Kansas Court of Appeals held that the Kansas RICO Act’s definition of racketeering activity includes juvenile adjudications. Under Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6328(f)(1), “racketeering activity” means committing any “(1) Felony or misdemeanor violation of [one of a number of listed Kansas criminal offenses].”[1] The Kansas Legislature did not intend to limit the definition of racketeering activity to mean only adult convictions because the Legislature used the broader term “violation,” not the narrower term “conviction.”[2] Therefore, the plain language of the Kansas RICO Act defines racketeering activity in Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6328(f)(1) to encompass juvenile adjudications.

Key Authorities: 18 U.S.C. § 1961(1) (providing federal equivalent to Kansas RICO Act, which also does not use the term “conviction” and allows juvenile offenses to be included in the definition of racketeering activity); Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6328(f)(1) (defining racketeering activity as committing any felony or misdemeanor violation).

[1]  Kan. Stat. Ann. § 21-6328(f)(1).

[2]  Id.

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