In Florida, racketeering crimes (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations) are harshly punished. Although most people might be familiar with the term racketeering, this offense is not only applicable to organized crime. Thus, it is important to understand what racketeering is and how it could affect your life.
A racketeering offense (RICO) occurs when a unlawful or legitimate organization commits illegal activities such as murder, money laundering, embezzlment, extorsion, and bribery. In Florida, RICO is charged as a first-degree felony and it can result in 30 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine.
A racketeering crime can be prosecuted either in Federal or State court. In either case, without a strong defense, a RICO crime can result in severe penalties that include expensive fines and long prison sentences. Due to the complexity of the charges, if you are facing a racketeering allegation, you might want to retain the help of a criminal lawyer.
What is Considered Racketeering in Florida?
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was originally designed to prosecute individuals engaging in organized crime. Thus, many people relate racketeering with drug cartels, mafia and gangs.
Nevertheless, racketeering involves numerous types of unlawful activities. In other words, a RICO crime takes place when an organization or individual connected to that enterprise engages in unlawful activities. In this context, an enterprise might include a criminal organization or a legitimate business that engaged in criminal activities.
A person or organization can be charged with racketeering if they engage in a pattern of racketeering. In other words, a person or organization can be charged with a RICO crime if they had committed at least 2 racketeering activities within a 10 year period.
Examples of Racketeering Crimes in Florida
Some of the organized, illegal activities and offenses that fall under racketeering include but are not limited to:
- Money laundering
Being accused of racketeering your charges might result in severe penalties that can affect your life. Thus, you need an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney at your side. Our racketeering attorneys in Florida have experience in both Federal and State Courts. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
As mentioned before, a RICO offense can be charged either at the federal or state level. Like many other federal crimes, before dictating a sentence, the judge needs to consider several factors. Under federal law, racketeering can carry a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment and a fine twice the gross value gained.
Additionally, the federal government might also seize any property or assets obtained through the racketeering activities. In federal sentencing, the judge has more discretion. Thus, he or she will consider the nature of the offense, aggravating factors and the defendant’s past criminal record.
In Florida, according to Statute § 895.04, RICO crimes are classified as a first-degree felony. As a result, if convicted, the offender will face a penalty of up to 30 years imprisonment, a maximum fine of $10,000, and cover the court and prosecution expenses.
With a racketeering conviction in Florida, in lieu of the $10,000 fine, the offender might need to pay up to 3 times the gross value gained or 3 times the gross loss caused. Applying this sentencing is up to the court’s discretion.
Oftentimes, people charged with racketeering face additional charges which can significantly escalate penalties. If you are not sure about the charges that you are facing, seek the legal counsel of one of our Florida criminal defense attorneys.
How to Beat a RICO Charge in Florida?
A racketeering charge is a serious accusation. Given that these are complex offenses, building a strong defense depends on characteristics of each case. Below there are some possible defenses that our RICO attorneys might be able to use.
In a racketeering case, the prosecutor needs to prove the existence of a criminal organization or a pattern of racketeering activity. As a result, if the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to support her or his claim, your criminal lawyer might be able to get your charges dropped.
If applicable to your case, the racketeering defense lawyers from Goldman Wetzel will also conduct research to find evidence that proves that you were not aware of these activities or that you did not intend to participate in them.
In order to prepare a strong racketeering defense, our legal team will conduct thorough research to find supporting evidence.
Contact a Racketeering Lawyer in Florida
There are numerous offenses that can be charged as racketeering. Given that a RICO crime carries severe penalties, consider retaining the help of a criminal defense attorney.
Goldman Wetzel is a criminal firm that represents clients facing criminal charges in both Federal and State Courts. Our lawyers serve Floridians in Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Hillsborough County and surrounding areas.