Racketeering involves numerous types of unlawful activities. As such, both federal and state laws criminalize it to combat organized crime. Racketeering is a serious crime that carries significant penalties. If you have been charged with racketeering, it is in your best interest to contact a skilled Escambia County Criminal Defense Lawyer who can help you understand your legal options. Please continue reading to learn about the potential penalties for racketeering in Florida.
What is racketeering?
In Florida, racketeering is defined as “committing, conspiring to commit, or trying to conspire or intimidate, solicit, or coerce another person to commit a crime that would be chargeable by petition, indictment, or information.” Racketeering encompasses various illegal activities. Essentially, a RICO crime occurs an individual or organization associated with an enterprise participates in unlawful activities, including money laundering, embezzlement, bribery, extortion, robbery, counterfeiting, and even murder. It can involve a criminal group or a lawful business engaged in criminal acts.
What is Florida’s RICO Act?
The Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act was enforced to prohibit enterprises from committing patterns of racketeering. It is relatively similar to the RICO Act enforced by the federal government. Under the federal RICO law, a person or organization can be charged if they engage in a pattern of racketeering. Essentially, someone who commits two criminal activities related to racketeering and involving interstate commerce within ten year period can be prosecuted.
To obtain a conviction, the prosecutor must prove that you were associated with an enterprise, you directly or indirectly participated in the enterprise by being involved in a minimum of two racketeering criminal acts, and of those unlawful acts you were engaged, at least two had similar methods of commission or were interconnected by distinguishing characteristics. Ultimately, they must demonstrate they were not isolated incidents.
Is it a felony in Florida?
In Florida, racketeering carries harsh penalties as it is charged as a first-degree felony. Consequently, it can result in up to 30 years of imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. Furthermore, in lieu of the $10,000 fine, you may be subject to paying three times the gross value gained or triple the gross loss caused. Ultimately, depending on the circumstances of your offense, sentencing is left up to the court’s discretion.
If you are charged under the state or federal RICO Act, contact a seasoned Escambia County criminal defense lawyer from The Law Office of James M. Burns, who can help defend your rights. Racketeering charges can be challenging to fight. However, to maximize your chances of reaching a favorable outcome, our attorneys can help you explore available defenses, such as proving there was a lack of pattern of racketeering activity or lack of knowledge. Allow our firm to represent your interests today.