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RICO Act

Lawyer Representing Miami Residents Accused of Racketeering

Racketeering can take many different forms. Both federal and state laws criminalize racketeering in order to fight organized crime. Florida’s RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act prohibits racketeering patterns. It is similar to the federal RICO Act, but there are critical differences. If you are being prosecuted under state or federal anti-racketeering laws, an experienced Miami RICO Act defense attorney can help you understand your legal options.

Federal RICO Act

The federal RICO law became effective as Title IX of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The original purpose of passing it was to pursue those engaged in organized crime. Under the federal RICO law, someone who commits two criminal activities related to racketeering and involving interstate commerce within a 10-year period can be prosecuted. Under this law, racketeering can take many different forms. It can consist of acts or threats involving kidnapping, murder, gambling, arson, bribery, extortion, robbery, or dealing in a controlled substance or listed chemical that can be charged under Florida law and result in more than a year of incarceration. It can also include other enumerated acts.

It's illegal for anybody who’s received any income indirectly or directly from a pattern of racketeering conduct or through collection of an illegal debt in which that person served as a principal to use or invest any part of the income to acquire an interest in an enterprise engaged in interstate or foreign commerce.

Florida RICO Act

A RICO Act violation will allege participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering. It is a felony. “Racketeering” under the Florida RICO Act is defined as perpetrating, conspiring, trying to conspire, or intimidate, solicit, or coerce someone else to perpetrate a crime that would be chargeable by information, indictment or petition.

What does it mean to have a “pattern” of racketeering under state law? A pattern of racketeering involves at least two instances that are defined as racketeering. These can’t be isolated incidents and they need to share distinctive characteristics that are interrelated and one of the incidents needs to happen after 1997, the effective date for the RICO law.

The Florida law prohibits using any money earned from racketeering to acquire or obtain an interest in property or real estate if there’s evidence of criminal intent behind getting these proceeds. It also prohibits obtaining or acquiring real estate or property interests by collecting illegal debts. It further prohibits being involved with or employed by an organization involved in a pattern of racketeering or collection of an unlawful debt.

What Needs to be Proven Under RICO?

You can be charged under the Florida RICO Act with a felony violation that’s punished with a maximum of 30 years in state prison if the prosecutor can show beyond a reasonable doubt; (1) you were associated with an enterprise, (2) you directly or indirectly participated in the enterprise by being involved in a minimum of 2 racketeering activity events, and (3) for incidents in which you were engaged, at least two had similar or the same types of accomplices, victims, intents, results, methods of commission, or were interconnected by distinguishing characteristics that weren’t isolated incidents.

A prosecutor doesn’t need to show that the RICO enterprise or that the predicate acts included a financial motivation. The prosecutor’s charging documents don’t need to identify the relationship between defendants and the crimes the documents allege.

Penalties

Under Florida law, a violation of the RICO Act is considered a first-degree felony charge, with a possible punishment of up to 30 years in prison, as well as a fine of up to $10,000. Instead of the court imposing a $10,000 fine, you could be sentenced to a fine of triple damages. Fines might be imposed where you perpetrated racketeering in which you obtained some sort of money or services or property or where you caused personal injuries to somebody.

Defenses to RICO Charges

Defending against racketeering charges under the RICO Act can be challenging, but working with a skilled defense lawyer can help you navigate your options. Charges can be complex. In order to prove that there was a pattern of racketeering, the prosecutor may need to show perpetration or attempted perpetration of more than one predicate act. It may be possible to defend on the grounds that the acts were isolated incidents or not interrelated or didn’t have the same intents, victims, results, accomplices or methods of commission. Other potential defenses are withdrawal or lack of knowledge.

Consult a RICO Act Attorney in Miami

If you’re charged under the state or federal RICO Act, skilled criminal defense lawyer Evan Hoffman can answer your questions regarding the charges you are facing. The Hoffman Firm represents clients in areas including Miami, Davie, Deerfield Beach, Plantation, Pembroke Pines, and Sunrise. Call us at (305) 249-0090 or contact us via our online form for a free, confidential consultation.

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