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 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.
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.