Racketeering (RICO)

Racketeering, as our Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of Leifert & Leifert know, is a major criminal issue throughout the State of Florida, and it is one which Florida law enforcement officers take seriously. In order to better understand the state laws, which we will discuss below, think of racketeering as the process of gaining financially through illegal business practices (such as extortion, money laundering, bribery and the like). For our purposes, we will look at Florida State Statutes s. 895.03 and s. 895.04, which deal with prohibited activities and criminal penalties and the alternative fine, respectively.

S. 895.03 holds quite clearly that it is illegal in the State of Florida for any person to use any proceeds derived from racketeering or through the collection of an illegal debt, assuming such proceeds were received with criminal intent, for the purpose of investing in the acquisition of any title to, or any right, interest, or equity in, real property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise. Further, it’s illegal under s. 895.03 for any person, through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an illegal debt, to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise or real property.

Similarly, as our Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach criminal defense lawyers know, it’s illegal for any person employed by, or associated with, any enterprise to conduct or participate, directly or indirectly, in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt and it is also illegal for anyone to conspire or endeavor to engage in any of the above-mentioned illegal acts. 

Now, 895.04, as we mentioned above, deals with the applicable criminal penalties and the alternative fine. Per the state statute, any person convicted of engaging in activity in violation of any part of s. 895.03, as outlined above, is guilty of a felony of the first degree, punishable by up to $10,000 in fines and/or 30 years in prison. As you can see, racketeering is taken very seriously in Florida and being caught violating the racketeering laws can land you in jail for decades, which could mean the rest of your life depending on your age, as our Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach criminal defense lawyers at Leifert & Leifert know.

That said, s. 895.04 also states that lieu of a fine otherwise authorized by law (as noted above), any person convicted of the above-mentioned crimes through which the person derived monetary value, or by which he or she caused personal injury or property damage or other loss, may be sentenced instead to pay a fine that does not exceed 3 times the gross value gained or 3 times the gross loss caused, whichever is the greater, plus court costs and the costs of investigation and prosecution, reasonably incurred. In other words, let’s say you’ve been convicted of racketeering and illegally receiving $20,000 as a result of your activity. If the court/judge sees fit, your sentence could be a fine of up to $60,000 (plus court costs and investigative/prosecution costs), as opposed to spending time in jail; (the fine prescribed by law would be less than the fine in this case). In terms of determining actual fines paid under this exception, the court shall hold a hearing to determine the amount of the fine.

If you have any questions about this crime, or if you’ve been arrested for or charged with this or any other crime in Palm Beach, Broward and/or Miami-Dade County, please contact our Fort Lauderdale and Delray Beach criminal defense lawyers by calling 1-888-5-DEFEND (1-888-533-3363) to schedule a free consultation. We look forward to assisting you.

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