Would Jabba the Hutt be Liable for the Contract Killings in Star Wars: Battlefront?

Electronic Arts recently released DLC, or downloadable content, for Star Wars Battlefront in advance of Rogue One’s premiere this month.  The DLC is entitled “Rogue One: Scarif,” referencing the planet of Scarif where much of the new content (and the Rogue One movie) take place.  For those unfamiliar with Star Wars: Battlefront, the game and its DLC allow the player to participate in many of the epic battles which take place in Star Wars lore as some of the series’ most iconic characters.  Particularly notable about the Rogue One: Scarif DLC was the inclusion of Jyn’s Solution and Krennic’s Offense, two weapons available by completing the appropriate “Hutt Contracts” in game.  The “Hutt Contracts” are offered by the incomparable Jabba the Hutt, and are completed by killing other characters with certain weapons a specified number of times.  Though the in-game murders are perpetrated by the player’s character, Jabba would also be liable for the player’s criminal actions through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”).

RICO states, in part, that “It is unlawful for anyone employed by or associated with any enterprise engaged in, or the activities of which affect, interstate or foreign commerce, to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in the conduct of such enterprise’s affairs through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debt.” Racketeering activity is defined, in part, as “any act or threat involving murder, kidnapping, gambling, arson, robbery, bribery, extortion, dealing in obscene matter or dealing in a controlled substance…which is chargeable under State law and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year.”  Effectively, RICO extends criminal liability to the leaders of a crime syndicate who ordered another to commit, or assisted another in committing, the serious, specified crimes.

In order to be found guilty of violating RICO, it must be proved beyond a reasonable doubt that (1) an enterprise existed; (2) the enterprise affected interstate commerce; (3) the defendant was associated with or employed by the enterprise; (4) the defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; and (5) the defendant conducted or participated in the conduct of the enterprise through the pattern of racketeering activity through the commission of at least  two acts of racketeering activity.

Jabba’s crime syndicate easily qualifies as an enterprise under RICO, which does not necessitate any sort of business entity, but merely a group of individuals associated in fact.  By virtue of Jabba offering the Hutt Contracts to players, the players and Jabba are an enterprise unto themselves.  Furthermore, as Jabba’s crime syndicate was substantial enough to be a primary source of wealth for Tatooine, it is safe to say that his criminal enterprise not only effected interstate commerce, but also interplanetary commerce.  The Hutt Contracts, in particular, are exemplary of how Jabba’s enterprise impacts interstate commerce.  Players who seek to complete the Hutt Contracts are not limited to one physical area to complete said contracts.  Instead, players are able to travel from planet to planet to obtain a sufficient number of kills to satisfy the contract.  As travel between planets to commit the murders is a necessary part of the gameplay, satisfaction of the Hutt Contracts necessitates an impact on interstate (and interplanetary) commerce.  Association with the criminal enterprise is given in this matter, as we are aware that Jabba is the head of the crime syndicate in question by his offering of the Hutt Contracts, and the players are associated by virtue of their acceptance of Jabba’s unlawful contracts to kill people.

Lastly, the player, at the behest of Jabba, engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity by committing multiple murders in order to fulfill any of the Hutt Contracts.  In order to establish a sufficient pattern, at least two acts of racketeering activity must be committed within ten years of each other, said activities must be related, and the activities must amount to or pose a threat of continued criminal activity.  In the matter of the Hutt Contracts, the murders are completed within a short amount of time, as one is able to complete a contract within several matches.  Furthermore, the racketeering activities of the Hutt Contracts are related, as they are offered proximately to one another, have similar goals, payments, methodologies, and rely upon similar repetition of unlawful actions.  The Hutt Contracts also pose a threat to continued racketeering activities by the very nature of offering many murder-for-hire contracts which are fulfilled in different ways.  One cannot simply complete all of the Hutt Contracts in the same manner.

Though Jabba could have been found liable for the many unlawful activities offered in the Hutt Contracts by means of the RICO doctrine, it is important to remember that Jabba’s criminal enterprise extended far beyond murder-for-hire.  Realistically, as one of the Outer Rim’s most notorious crime lords, Jabba’s exposure to potential RICO liability was sizeable. Though Jabba may have been liable for a variety of racketeering activity, he nonetheless evaded the court’s justice for prosecution under RICO.  Unfortunately for Jabba, he was unable to avoid Leia.

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Roger Quiles is an attorney from New York City with a practice servicing the eSports and video game industries. A die-hard gamer since Super Mario Bros., Roger now represents professional gamers, Youtubers, streamers, tournament producers, and the businesses that serve them. Roger firmly believes that life’s problems can be solved with up, up, down, down, left, right, left right, B, A, Start.