Racketeering Charges are Serious Business in Florida
The term racketeering brings up images of Prohibition-era gangsters and infamous mob bosses. But under Florida law, racketeering can encompass a variety of actions. At their core, these laws seek to deter and punish enterprises that are built off of unlawful activities. A racketeering conviction relies heavily on the knowledge of the accused, which creates substantial opportunity for a viable defense with the assistance of a skilled lawyer.
Several local news outlets are reporting about arrests made in connection with the killing of a Florida teenager. According to Northwest Florida Daily News, authorities arrested three men thus far and charged each of them with one count of first degree murder and two counts of racketeering. The latter charges reportedly stem from the accused’s alleged involvement in a “gang and marijuana distribution operation.” The alleged leader of the group is still sought by law enforcement.
In an entirely different racketeering case, a Florida lobbyist is facing charges over his connections with a member of the United States Congress. According to reports, the congressman is in exchange for an ambassadorship. The federal indictment also alleges that the lobbyist accepted money to assist the congressman in qualifying for a home loan.
The Florida Statute
The vast differences in these pending cases exemplify the potentially far reach of a racketeering charge. The Florida code states that it is “unlawful for any person who has with criminal intent received any proceeds derived, directly or indirectly, from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt to use or invest, whether directly or indirectly, any part of such proceeds…”
Racketeering activity encompasses numerous chargeable crimes, including:
- Eluding law enforcement or obstructing justice;
- Medicaid or public assistance fraud;
- Illegal distribution of narcotics;
- Violations of the beverage laws;
- Illegal gang activities;
- Actions related to homicide, assault, kidnapping or sexual battery;
- Counterfeiting and forgery; and
- Misuse of public office.
The possible consequences of a racketeering conviction are significant. The crime is classified as a class one felony in Florida, carrying a maximum sentence of up to 30 years imprisonment. Fines up to $10,000 are also possible, along with treble damages for injury or property loss related to the racketeering activity. The court can also order the civil forfeiture of “all property, real or personal, including money, used in the course of, intended for use in the course of, derived from, or realized through conduct.”
In defending your case, your lawyer may attempt to raise reasonable doubt about your knowledge of the racketeering activities. He may also assert that, though you may have had knowledge about one incident, you were not privy to the pattern of activity that is necessary for racketeering. Another possible defense is evidence that you withdrew from any racketeering activity once you gained knowledge of its existence.
If you or a loved one is facing racketeering charges, it is vitally important to contact a skilled lawyer in Miami. Call Ratzan & Faccidomo, LLC today at (305) 330-3905 for a confidential and free consultation.