RICO: Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act
What is RICO?
Under the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), a person who is a member of an enterprise that has committed any two of 35 crimes within a 10-year period can be charged with racketeering (RICO). A person found guilty can face a maximum sentence of up to 30 years in prison, and must also forfeit all properties and the interest in any business, profit, revenue gained through the violation of the RICO act. Additionally, the government may attempt to seek a pre-trial restraining order or injunction to temporarily seize a defendant’s assets and prevent the further transfer of potentially forfeitable property.
RICO was first enacted as part of the Organized Crime Control Act of 1970. The act allows prosecution and civil penalties for racketeering activity performed as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. The crime can be prosecuted in either State or Federal Court, as both jurisdictions provide for extended criminal and/or civil penalties.
Florida’s RICO Act refers to participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering. Florida’s act similarly mirrors the Federal Act. These prosecutions often involve a voluminous amount of wiretapping evidence as well as financial records. A person convicted under the Act is guilty of a first degree felony punishable up to 30 years in Florida State Prison. Further a court may impose a criminal penalty requiring an individual to pay a fine of up to three times the amount gained or three times the value of the property damage or other loss caused.
The elements of the offense include:
- The person arrested for racketeering was associated with an enterprise;
- The person arrested for racketeering either directly or indirectly participated in the enterprise by engaging in at least two incidents of “racketeering activity:” and,
- For those incidents in which the person arrested for racketeering was engaged, at least two of them had either similar or the same types of the following:
- Methods of commission; or
- Were interrelated by distinguishing characteristics which were not isolated incidents.
Given the egregious criminal and civil penalties under Florida’s Act, it is important to have a qualified criminal attorney represent you on such charges. Contact the Law Offices of Smith & Eulo today at (407) 930-8912.