Passed in 1970, the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) makes it a crime for a criminal organization or enterprise to receive income through a pattern of racketeering activity or collection of unlawful debts. Florida's RICO Act closely mirrors the federal RICO Act, although there are slight differences. Here’s what you need to know.
What Is Racketeering?
The term racketeering in Florida means to commit, to attempt to commit, to conspire to commit, or to solicit, coerce, or intimidate another person to commit (1) any crime that is chargeable by petition, indictment, or information or (2) any conduct defined as "racketeering activity" in the federal RICO Act. Common examples of racketeering activity include extortion, money laundering, obstruction of justice and bribery.
The Florida Rico Act
The Florida RICO Act makes it unlawful for any person to:
- Use or invest any part of proceeds, derived directly or indirectly from a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt, in the acquisition of any title, right, interest, or equity in real property or in the establishment or operation of any enterprise, where the person received such proceeds with criminal intent.
- Acquire or maintain any interest or control of any enterprise or real property through a pattern of racketeering activity or through the collection of an unlawful debt.
- Be employed by, or associated with, any enterprise to conduct or participate in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of an unlawful debt.
Racketeering is a 1st degree felony in Florida, which is punishable by up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. In lieu of such fine, any person convicted of racketeering activity through which the person derived money, or property or services that have a value of over $100, may instead be sentenced to pay a fine of treble damages.
If someone engages in at least two incidents of racketeering conduct, where at least one incident occurred after October 1, 1977, and the last of the incidents occurred within five years after a prior incident, this is known as a “pattern of racketeering,” and it carries severe penalties.
If you have been arrested for racketeering, contact our Clearwater criminal defense lawyers at Tinny, Meyer & Piccarreto, P.A. today. Our goal is to help ensure you walk away from a criminal charge with the least possible negative impacts on your life.
Call (727) 245-9009 or contact us online to make an appointment. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions.