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RICO violations in Florida

Posted by Ann Fitz | Jan 16, 2023 | 0 Comments

Misunderstanding might exist about how federal law enforcement investigates Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) violations. For example, some might assume that only those involved in organized crime or substantial narcotics operations may face RICO investigations and subsequent charges. RICO statutes apply to numerous criminal activities in Florida, including non-violent white-collar violations.

RICO crimes

RICO laws serve to prosecute criminal operations that involve numerous parties. RICO statutes might target suspects believed to be involved in a wide range of federal crimes, including copyright infringement. So, a company that produces and sells illegal dupes of Blu-rays or downloads of copyrighted material might face RICO charges.

As with any criminal prosecution, prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Constitutional rights always apply, and the charges must fit the facts related to the point. In addition, RICO charges must possess specific statutory elements to be valid.

RICO elements

Two core elements a federal prosecutor must establish are proof that a criminal enterprise existed and it impacted interstate commerce. If there is no criminal enterprise, RICO will not apply. The issue might not be a federal matter if the alleged crimes did not involve interstate commerce. Such would be the case with aggravated violent offenses and white-collar crimes.

Credible charges must not only connect the defendant to the criminal enterprise and racketeering violations, but another statutory requirement exists: the prosecution must prove the defendant participated in two racketeering-related crimes in ten years. The case might fall apart when the prosecutor cannot prove these elements.

Other issues could work in the defendant's favor, such as the revelation a witness lied or federal agents lacked a warrant when seizing evidence. Each case will have its particulars, but constitutional rights and proof beyond a reasonable doubt always apply.

About the Author

Ann Fitz

Attorney Ann Fitz Attorney Ann Fitz has 20 years of experience as a federal criminal attorney and appellate practice attorney.  She began her career as a prosecutor in 2003 and started her own federal criminal defense practice in 2007.  She is devoted to protecting the rights of the accused in f...


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