Miami RICO Lawyer
If you or a loved one is facing prosecution or under investigation for RICO in Miami-Dade County, you need an experienced Miami RICO lawyer.
Depending on the case’s specifics, RICO charges can be brought in state or federal court. If someone is convicted of RICO violations, they may face severe penalties, including a significant prison sentence. If you are facing serious racketeering accusations, it is crucial that you obtain the assistance of a skilled Miami racketeering lawyer. Our law firm has a wealth of experience representing clients in South Florida. Our attorneys have an in-depth knowledge of the intricate aspects of racketeering laws and are ready to examine your case. Do not hesitate to reach out to us for seasoned legal representation.
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) in Florida
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) is a law that allows the state or federal government to bring criminal charges against individuals or organizations that engage in a pattern of racketeering activity. Racketeering includes crimes such as extortion, fraud, money laundering, and other offenses.
The original purpose of RICO was to combat organized crime and corruption by targeting the leaders of criminal organizations and disrupting their operations. It allows the state and federal governments to bring charges against individuals involved in organized crime, even if they are not directly involved in committing specific crimes. Unfortunately, over time, prosecutors have expanded the reach of RICO by targeting a wide range of activities that are not necessarily related to organized crime or corruption. Sometimes, it can target legitimate businesses and organizations that may not be engaged in criminal activity.
Federal RICO Law
The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) was implemented in 1970 as part of the Organized Crime Control Act with the intention of targeting individuals involved in organized crime. Under RICO, it is illegal for anyone to engage in a pattern of racketeering activity or to use the proceeds of such activity to acquire or maintain an interest in an enterprise engaged in interstate or foreign commerce. Racketeering activity includes a wide range of federal crimes, such as extortion, fraud, money laundering, and other offenses.
To be charged with a RICO violation, a person must be accused of committing at least two predicate crimes within a 10-year period. These crimes must be related to racketeering and must involve interstate commerce. Racketeering can be based on a wide range of crimes, including:
- Extortion: The use of force, intimidation, or threats to obtain something of value from someone.
- Fraud: The intentional deception of another person or entity for personal or financial gain.
- Money laundering: Disguising the proceeds of illegal activity as legitimate funds.
- Gambling: The operation of illegal gambling activities.
- Bribery: The offering of money or other valuable items in exchange for an illegal favor.
- Robbery: The taking someone’s property by force or threat of force.
- Drug trafficking: The illegal sale, distribution, or possession of controlled substances.
These are just a few examples of crimes that can be used as the basis for racketeering charges. Racketeering can also include other enumerated offenses. If you are accused of racketeering, it is crucial to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights and fight the charges against you.
Possible Federal Racketeering Penalties
If someone is convicted of federal racketeering, they can face up to 20 years in federal prison for each count. However, if the racketeering activity includes a crime punishable by life imprisonment, such as murder, then the racketeering charge is also punishable by life imprisonment. The court may also impose a fine equal to twice the defendant’s illegal profits.
Under the RICO Act, the government can also seize assets obtained or maintained through racketeering, a process known as criminal forfeiture. This allows the government to legally take ownership of assets like real estate, vehicles, and equipment that belong to a criminal enterprise.
Florida RICO Law
Although some differences exist between Florida’s racketeering statute and the Federal RICO statute, Florida law largely mirrors federal RICO law. State prosecutors can bring racketeering charges against a person or organization that engages in a pattern of racketeering activity. Specifically, if a person directly or indirectly participates in the enterprise and is accused of committing at least two racketeering offenses within 5 years, they may be charged with a RICO crime.
The statute defines an “enterprise” as “any individual, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, business trust, union chartered under the laws of this state, or other legal entity, or any unchartered union, association, or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity; and it includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental, as well as other, entities.”
The two instances of racketeering activity can be any conduct listed under the federal statute, as well as:
- Evasion of payment of cigarette taxes
- Fleeing or attempting to elude a law enforcement officer and aggravated fleeing or eluding
- Illegal sale, purchase, collection, harvest, capture, or possession of wild animal life, freshwater aquatic life, or marine life, and related crimes
- Environmental control violations
- Medicaid fraud
- Public assistance fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Creation of a fictitious employer scheme to commit reemployment assistance fraud
- Distribution of medicinal drugs without a permit as an Internet pharmacy
- Crimes involving contraband, adulterated, or misbranded drugs
- Telemarketing violations
- Sale of securities and investor protection
- Dog racing and horse racing
- Jai alai fronton operations
- Slot machine gaming
- Manufacture, distribution, and use of explosives
- Money transmitter violations (if punishable as a felony)
- Beverage law enforcement violations
- Transacting insurance without a certificate of authority, operating an unauthorized multiple-employer welfare arrangement, or representing or aiding an unauthorized insurer
- Failure to report currency transactions (if punishable as a felony)
- Interest and usurious practices
- Real estate timeshare plan violations
- Commission of crimes by accessories after the fact
- Assault and battery
- Kidnapping or human trafficking
- Weapons and firearms offenses
- Sexual battery (if committed with intent to benefit, promote, or further the interests of a criminal gang, or to increase the offender’s standing within a criminal gang)
- Arson and criminal mischief
- Burglary and trespassing
- Theft, robbery, and related crimes
- Computer-related crimes
- Fraudulent practices, false pretenses, fraud, credit card crimes, and patient brokering
- Insurance fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, organized fraud, tax fraud, mortgage fraud, securities fraud
- Abuse, neglect, or exploitation of an elderly person or disabled adult
- Commercial sexual exploitation of children
- Fighting or baiting animals
- Forgery and counterfeiting
- Issuance of worthless checks and drafts
- Public officer crimes
- Misuse of public office
- Official misconduct
- Tampering with physical evidence
Elements of Florida RICO
To be found guilty of Unlawfully Conducting or Participating in an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering Activity, the prosecution must prove the following four things beyond a reasonable doubt:
- The defendant was either employed by or associated with an enterprise.
- The defendant either conducted or participated in the enterprise by committing at least two of the incidents of racketeering activity listed in the information.
- At least two incidents of racketeering activity committed by the defendant had similar intent, results, accomplices, victims, and methods of commission or were connected by distinctive characteristics and were not isolated.
- The two incidents of racketeering activity occurred within five years of each other.
Florida Racketeering Penalties
In Florida, a RICO Act violation is considered a first-degree felony and can result in a prison sentence of up to 30 years and a fine of up to $10,000. But, Instead of the fine generally allowed by law a person found guilty of violating the RICO Act may be ordered to pay a fine that is up to three times the value gained or three times the loss caused by the violation, whichever is greater, in addition to court costs and the costs of investigation and prosecution.
Defenses to RICO Charges
Several defenses may be available to someone facing RICO charges:
- Lack of knowledge: If the defendant was unaware that their actions were part of a racketeering enterprise, they might be able to argue that they had no intent to engage in racketeering.
- Lack of participation: The defendant may be able to argue that they were not actively involved in the racketeering enterprise and were simply present when the illegal activities were taking place.
- No criminal enterprise: The defendant may be able to argue that no criminal enterprise existed.
- No pattern of racketeering activity: The defendant may be able to argue that the government failed to prove the required two instances within the required time period.
- Duress: If the defendant was forced to participate in the racketeering enterprise under threat of violence or other harm, they might be able to argue that they were acting under duress and therefore not responsible for their actions.
- Entrapment: The entrapment defense might be available if the government or law enforcement agents induced the defendant to commit the racketeering offense.
- Statute of limitations: If too much time has passed since the alleged racketeering activity occurred, the charges may be barred by the statute of limitations.
- Insufficient evidence: The prosecutor must prove each element of the RICO charge beyond a reasonable doubt. If there is insufficient evidence to support the charge, the defendant may be able to have the charges dismissed.
The specific defenses available will depend on the facts and circumstances of the individual case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best defense that applies to your case.
Contact Experienced Miami Racketeering Attorneys
By immediately retaining experienced Miami racketeering attorneys, you can minimize the likelihood that your RICO case will have long-term negative impacts on your career, personal life, and reputation. A conviction under RICO can result in lengthy prison sentences and large fines. When facing criminal charges, it’s critical to have the best possible defense to protect your rights and freedom. Our racketeering defense lawyers have the experience and knowledge you need to defend yourself.
CALL US NOW for a CONFIDENTIAL CONSULTATION at (305) 538-4545, or simply take a moment to fill out our confidential and secure intake form.* The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry.
*Due to the large number of people who contact us requesting our assistance, it is strongly suggested that you take the time to provide us with specific details regarding your case by filling out our confidential and secure intake form. The additional details you provide will greatly assist us in responding to your inquiry promptly and appropriately.
ALWAYS INVESTIGATE A LAWYER’S QUALIFICATIONS AND EXPERIENCE BEFORE MAKING A DECISION ON HIRING A LAWYER