Racketeering is a broad term that, in legal terms, means carrying on an illegal business or otherwise extorting money illegally. While most people tend to think only of organized crime when they hear about racketeering, numerous types of unlawful activities can lead to racketeering charges. If you are facing charges, call a racketeering attorney in St. Petersburg from Goldman Wetzel for help.
What is racketeering activity?
Florida Statute § 895.02 (1)(a) provides that someone commits racketeering activity when he commits any conduct defined by the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act [18 U.S.C. § 96] as racketeering.
An accused party can also face racketeering charges for committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, or soliciting, coercing, or intimidating another person to commit any of the 50 types of the chargeable offenses listed in the statute (known as the Florida RICO Act). Some of the organized, illegal activities and offenses that fall under racketeering include those related to:
- Public assistance fraud
- Manufacturing or distributing explosives
- Medicaid fraud
- Gang activities
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Financial transactions fraud
- Illegal dogracing and horseracing activities
- Forgery and counterfeiting
- Bribery in public office
What are the penalties for racketeering?
Federal or state courts may handle racketeering charges; the penalties differ depending on which court has jurisdiction.
- State penalties – Florida deems racketeering a first-degree felony. If a Florida state court handles the case, the penalties for racketeering include up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine, court costs and the costs of investigation and prosecution. In lieu of the standard fine, the courts also have the discretion to sentence those convicted of racketeering to pay a fine up to three times the gross value of the money gained (or losses caused) through the unlawful activities.
- Federal penalties – The federal penalties for racketeering includes up to 20 years imprisonment for each count, and a fine of up to twice the defendant’s unlawful profits. The federal government will also seize any property obtained through racketeering activities and assume title of the assets.
Most people charged with racketeering face numerous additional charges, which can significantly escalate penalties. A racketeering attorney in St. Petersburg from our firm will able to tell you exactly what you are up against.
How do I defend against racketeering charges?
There are several defenses that we may explore to fight racketeering charges. Some approaches involve proving that there was no “pattern” of unlawful activity or that no enterprise existed, while others involve proving that you were unaware of or did not intend to participate in something illegal.