Racketeering doesn’t refer to a specific crime or a single act of crime. It’s more about engaging in an illegal scheme. These include embezzlement, money laundering, murder, bribery, and extortion. The term doesn’t only refer to organized crime; a Tampa criminal defense attorney can help you understand your risks in such a case.
In Florida, a racketeering crime occurs when legitimate or unlawful groups or organizations engage in illegal activities. An organization or a person can be charged with racketeering if it’s established that they engaged in a pattern of racketeering.
What does the Florida RICO or Racketeering Act Say?
Under the Florida RICO Act, racketeering is the act of perpetrating, conspiring, or trying to coerce, solicit, or intimidate someone else to commit a crime chargeable by petition, indictment, or information. Someone engaging in two racketeering acts involving interstate commerce within ten years can face prosecution.
A pattern of racketeering entails at least two instances that qualify as racketeering. While they can be isolated incidents, they must share distinctive interrelated characteristics. A Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer can represent you in court to help you get a favorable outcome.
What Are the Examples of Racketeering in Florida?
A person violates the RICO Act if they engage in a pattern of racketeering connected to an enterprise. An enterprise is any legal or unlawful entity, including an individual, partnership, or corporation.
The federal law defines 35 variations of crime that constitute racketeering:
- Money Laundering
- Human Smuggling
- Criminal copyright infringement
These crimes must have happened in ten years. They also must have occurred through an enterprise to pass as racketeering. The charges result in severe penalties that can affect your life. A skilled and experienced Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer can help you.
What Does the Prosecution Need to Prove Racketeering in Florida?
For a prosecutor to convict you of racketeering at the deferral level, they must prove beyond every reasonable doubt that:
- The alleged criminal enterprise existed at the time of the crime
- The enterprise impacted commerce at the interstate level
- You were associated with or an employee of the enterprise
- You engaged in a pattern of racketeering activities
- You were involved in at least two racketeering activities. For the activities in which you were involved, there were at least two similar accomplices, results, intents, victims, or methods of commission.
However, the prosecutor doesn’t need to prove that the RICO enterprise has a financial motivation. Additionally, the documents the prosecutor uses in charging don’t need to identify your relationship with the crimes alleged in the papers.
Is There a Statute of Limitation for a Rico Violation in Florida?
The statute of limitations for a RICO criminal activity in Florida states that at least one of the predicate acts in the racketeering acts must have started within five years after the activity terminates. A minimum of two predicate incidents must have happened within five years following each other.
That’s to say that the statute of limitations for racketing activities is five years. That applies to all crimes charged for engaging in activities that violate the provisions of S. 895.03. The offense is a first-degree felony under Florida Statute Section 895.04(1).
What is the Expiration of the Statute of Limitations?
The law provides for the expiration of the five-year statute of limitations for all RICO crimes. Under this provision, the law prohibits one of the underlying predicate offenses from being prosecuted separately as a stand-alone offense. It, however, doesn’t prevent it from being used as a predicate offense under F.S. 895.02(8)(a).
You can contact a criminal defense attorney in Tampa, FL, to learn more about the statute of limitations regarding RICO cases prosecuted in federal court.
What’s The Penalty for Racketeering in Florida?
Under Florida law, racketeering activities that violate the RICO Act are considered a first-degree felony that can attract 30-year imprisonment in addition to a $10,000 fine. Instead of the $10,000 fine, the court could sentence you to a fine of triple damages.
Fines are applicable where you perpetrated racketeering and obtained financial value in the form of money, property, or services to cause personal injuries to another person. You may also get a sentence to pay a fine for treble damages.
You’re likely to face other charges when faced with a RICO charge. If you’re unsure of the charges, it’s advisable to have a skilled Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer to minimize your risk during the trial.
What Defenses Can I Use for A Rico Charge in Florida?
Defending yourself in court when faced with racketeering charges can be taxing and time-consuming. A Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer can work with you to navigate the options available to you. Since the charges are severe, the prosecutor may need to prove that there was a pattern of racketeering. They may also need to establish the perpetration of more than one predicate act.
If the prosecutor lacks enough evidence to support their claim, a Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer may be able to help you get the charges dropped. The lawyer may put up a strong defense that proves that:
- There’s no pattern of racketeering activity associated with the case, and the incidents were isolated
- You were not aware of these activities or had no intention of participating in them
- You withdrew from the activities
Legal Guidance from a Professional Defense Attorney
Several offenses can be charged as racketeering under Florida Law. A RICO crime attracts severe penalties and typically indicates underlying crimes. You risk being sentenced to up to 30 years in prison if convicted. A strong defense is crucial to defending your rights and lessening the charges.
A Tampa white-collar crimes lawyer from our law firm can represent you in this complex criminal defense situation. Contacting us to help you defend your rights is in your best interest. Talk to us today to get started.