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RICO Act – Miami Criminal Defense Attorney

State and federal law makes it illegal for any person to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity. In 1970, the Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, or RICO Act, was passed to thwart organized criminal activity in the United States. The RICO Act allows for the prosecution of individuals engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity as part of an enterprise. Put simply, the RICO Act enables prosecutors to go after members of a criminal organization, even though those members may not be in charge of anything. Since its inception, members of the Mafia, Hell’s Angels, and Genovese crime family have been convicted under the RICO Act.

Today, the RICO Act is no longer exclusively applied to gangsters and hardened criminals, the Act is applied broadly to otherwise perfectly legal organizations. Under Florida and United States Federal law, a violation of the RICO Act is considered a Felony and carries serious implications. If you are facing charges of, or may be in violation of the RICO Act, a competent and experienced white-collar criminal law attorney should be consulted immediately.

Florida RICO Act

Miami and other Florida residents may face racketeering charges under Florida Statute 895, also known as the Florida RICO Act. Under Florida law, racketeering means to commit, conspire to commit, or ask someone else to commit one of fifty various crimes, including: medicare fraud, assault and battery, burglary, perjury, extortion, and more.

To convict a defendant under the Florida RICO Act, the prosecutor must first show the defendant was associated with, employed by, had an interest in, or received money from an enterprise. A company, business, association, society, gang, or any other organized body of people constitute an enterprise. It does not matter whether the primary function of the enterprise was legal or illegal.

Next, the prosecutor must prove one of the following:

  1. The defendant directly or indirectly participated at least two incidents of interrelated racketeering, with a common intent, result, victim, accomplishment, or method of commission.
  2. The defendant acquired an interest in or control of property by collecting an unlawful debt.
  3. The defendant knowingly spent the proceeds of the organization’s racketeering activity.

In Florida, RICO Act violations are considered a first degree felony, carrying a sentence of up to thirty years in prison, and up to a $10,000 fine. Additionally, the defendant may be ordered to pay treble damages to the victim. The United States government is in the business of prosecuting under the RICO Act, an experienced criminal trial attorney will protect your constitutional rights by going toe-to-toe with prosecutors.

Federal RICO Act

The federal RICO Act, 18 U.S. Code 1962, closely mirrors the Florida . In order to be convicted under the federal RICO Act, the prosecution must prove: (1) The defendant was part of, or employed by an enterprise, (2) the enterprise effected interstate commerce, and (3) the defendant engaged in the same or similar type of racketeering activity two or more times. Those under investigation for violating the RICO Act should contact a federal criminal trial attorney as soon as possible.

Potential Defenses to Racketeering

Common defenses to RICO charges include:

  • Statute of Limitations – At least one of the racketeering acts must have occurred within five years of the charges.
  • The Pattern of Racketeering was too Remote in Time – At least two of the incidents in the racketeering pattern must have occurred within five years of one another.
  • Defendant Lacked Knowledge – If the defendant was unaware of any racketeering activity taking place within their enterprise, they may not be prosecutable in some situations.

A competent federal criminal trial attorney will invoke any applicable defense and file vital pre-trial motions to support you in defending your rights.

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