Charges under the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) can carry serious criminal and civil penalties. If you have been charged with any offense associated with organized crime, your prosecution will likely revolve around very complicated legal issues. It is best to seek the counsel of an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
What is RICO?
The federal RICO act refers to the prosecution and defense of individuals who engage in organized crime, more specifically racketeering. Also known as the operation of an illegal enterprise, racketeering can involved a number of crimes, including:
- Obstruction of justice
- Money laundering
Any of these crimes, connected with an illegal “enterprise,” or “any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or other legal entity, and any union or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity,” may be punishable under the RICO act.
Florida Criminal Activity Targeted by RICO
Federal crimes punishable under the RICO Act include, but are not limited to:
- Conducting legal or illegal affairs of a business or organization through racketeering activity
- Acquiring an interest in any enterprise through racketeering
- Using money earned from racketeering or unlawful debt collection to acquire, establish or operate any enterprise business (that impacts or influences interstate commerce)
- Conspiring to do any of the above
A successful RICO case requires that federal prosecutors prove to a jury that a defendant is guilty of all of the following:
- Impacting interstate commerce
- Running or participating in a criminal enterprise
- A pattern of racketeering
What is a pattern of racketeering?
Predicate crimes are the root of a racketeering charge. In order to convict on a racketeering charge, federal prosecutors must be able to prove that the defendant is guilty of multiple predicate or underlying crimes. This is known as a “pattern.”
Civil RICO Cases in Florida
A civil RICO case is filed when a plaintiff files a claim against a business, group, or organization. Civil RICO cases can be a potent prosecution tool, however there are many caveats that impact the litigation surrounding civil RICO cases. Consulting an experienced Florida RICO attorney can help ensure that
In order to successfully file a civil RICO claim, the plaintiff will need to provide sufficient evidence demonstrating that the defendant violated the criminal RICO statute and that the plaintiff suffered damages as a result. RICO cases differ from other civil cases in that the plaintiff stands to be awarded treble damages. This means that rather actual damages, the plaintiff may collect any multiple of the cost of damages plus legal fees.
The discovery process in a civil RICO case can prove extremely complex and time-consuming. An experienced Florida civil RICO lawyer can help you ensure that your discovery provides the fullest scope of evidence possible.
The Law Offices of Edward G. Salantrie can represent you and help to prove your innocence with supporting evidence that eliminates a pattern of racketeering and secures the best possible outcome in court. Contact him today to start your free consultation at (954) 523-2100.