The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) was enacted by section 901(a) of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970 with a view to control and eradicate organized crime in the United States. It includes a wide array of criminal acts starting from acts of bribery, counterfeiting, money laundering, theft, extortion, embezzlement, fraud, to drug trafficking, dealing in obscene matter, obstruction of justice, slavery and acts of terrorism.
The U.S. Department of Justice makes it clear that in order to be found guilty of violating the RICO statute, the government must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:
- that an enterprise existed;
- that the enterprise affected interstate commerce;
- that the defendant was associated with or employed by the enterprise;
- that the defendant engaged in a pattern of racketeering activity; and
- that the defendant conducted or participated in the conduct of the enterprise through that pattern of racketeering activity through the commission of at least two acts of racketeering activity as set forth in the indictment.
Beyond a reasonable doubt means that if your Florida criminal defense lawyer can raise a reasonable doubt about your involvement in racketeering, money laundering, etc. then a juror would be duty-bound acquit you.
Keep in mind, the government need not prove that the defendant agreed with every other conspirator, knew all of the other conspirators, or had full knowledge of all the details of the conspiracy. A prosecutor must show:
- that you agreed to commit the substantive racketeering offense through agreeing to participate in two racketeering acts;
- that you knew the general status of the conspiracy; and
- that you knew the conspiracy extended beyond his individual role.
Florida has its own RICO Act (see Florida Statutes 895) and permits a prosecutor to charge an entire organization for racketeering all at once. For the Florida RICO Act, an individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, business trust, etc. can be considered an enterprise. The law also specifies that in order to charge you, or your organization, under RICO, you must have committed at least two incidents of racketeering conduct within the last ten years and those incidents must be connected to organized crime by some manner.
Both white collar crimes and violent crimes are punishable under the RICO Act. If you are convicted, penalties for RICO charges may include:
- Up to 20 years jail term for each offense;
- Up to $250,000 in fines;
- Forfeit of business ownership and/or share; and
- Seizure of all assets derived through such activities.
In lieu of a fine otherwise authorized by law, any person convicted of such crimes may sentenced to pay a fine that does not exceed three times the gross value gained or three times the gross loss caused, whichever is the greater, plus court costs and the costs of investigation and prosecution that have been reasonably incurred.
Contact an Experienced RICO Defense Lawyer Today
If you happen to be convicted or apprehended for RICO in Florida, immediately get in touch with an experienced criminal racketeering defense attorney who knows how to fight RICO charges. RICO is an extremely complex set of laws and you need an advocate who understands these laws on your side. Contact the Skier Law Firm, P.A. today for a confidential, free consultation.