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What is Racketeering?

You might be familiar with the term “racketeering,” but not really understand what it means. You have probably heard the term used during discussions about organized crime, either actual or fictional events. Racketeering refers to a range of offenses, such as fraud, murder, and sex crimes. What marks certain cases of these offenses as “racketeering,” rather than simply criminal offenses, is the element of committing them as part of an operation to illegally build income. At its root, racketeering refers to creating a “racket,” which is the act of creating a problem, then creating the solution to the problem and selling it for a profit. But an act of racketeering can go beyond this and simply be any criminal act committed while working as part of a group or in a series of criminal offenses for the group’s gain. Racketeering groups can be informal, like criminal gangs, or formal, operating under organized business structures.

There are two anti-racketeering laws in effect that govern the prosecution of these offenses: the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and Chapter 895 of the Florida Statutes, known as the Florida RICO statute.

Offenses that Can Be Prosecuted Under RICO and Florida RICO

Being convicted of racketeering under the federal law has a few different requirements from being convicted under Florida RICO. Under the federal statute, the defendant must have been found guilty of two predicate acts within the last ten years. Under the state law, the defendant must have been involved in at least two acts of racketeering within the past five years.

At the state level, the following offenses may be prosecuted as racketeering:

  • Mortgage fraud;
  • Tax evasion;
  • Money laundering;
  • Bank fraud;
  • Medicare fraud; and
  • Other offenses related to fraud and finance.

At the federal level, these offenses and violent offenses may be prosecuted under RICO, including the following:

  • Bribery;
  • Murder;
  • Sexual exploitation of a child;
  • Gambling-related offenses; and
  • Obstruction of justice.

Penalties for a Racketeering Conviction

Individuals who are convicted of racketeering under federal law can face steep penalties, including up to 20 years to life in prison, fines of up to double the amount of the defendant’s income made through the racket, and asset forfeiture. Asset forfeiture refers to the act of the government taking any assets that a defendant purchased with money earned through a criminal enterprise, such as his or her car, property, and the tools used as part of the criminal enterprise, such as drug manufacturing equipment.

Under Florida RICO, racketeering is a first degree felony.

Work with an Experienced Miami Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you have been charged with racketeering, you have the right to work with an experienced criminal defense lawyer to defend your case. Do not wait to start building your case’s defense with an experienced Miami criminal defense lawyer. Contact our team at Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today to schedule your initial meeting with a member of our team.

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