Racketeering refers to crimes committed through some form of extortion or coercion. The term is often associated with organized crime. Under U.S. laws, racketeering includes gambling, kidnapping, murder, drug dealing, and bribery, to name a few cases.
Based on the Florida statutes, racketeering means to commit, attempt to, conspire to, or to solicit, coerce, or intimidate another person to commit any crime that’s chargeable by indictment, petition, or information. It’s also defined as any conduct defined as “racketeering activity” in the federal Racketeer-Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act.
Elements of Racketeering
The Florida RICO Act makes it unlawful for any person to:
- Use or invest any part of proceeds, from a “pattern of racketeering activity,” which means someone has engaged in at least two incidents of racketeering conduct that have the same or similar intents.
- Acquire or maintain, any interest or control of any enterprise or real property through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of unlawful debt.
- Be employed by or associated with, any enterprise to participate or conduct, directly or indirectly, in such enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity or the collection of unlawful debt.
- Conspire or attempt to violate any of the provisions above.
Examples of Racketeering
Racketeering takes on many forms. Recently, cases of cyber extortion have become more common, changing the traditional racketeering examples we’re most familiar with. Some examples of racketeering include:
- Kidnapping: when any individual is detained against their will, and their captors agree to set the person free once a ransom is paid.
- Fencing racket: when an individual acts as an intermediary to buy stolen goods at low rates, to resell them for a profit to unsuspecting buyers.
- Numbers racket: a form of illegal gambling in which a corrupt dealer conspires with associates to cheat other unsuspecting players of their money.
There are also racketeering offenses perpetrated by criminal enterprises and corporations. For example, drug manufacturers may bribe doctors to overprescribe a specific medicine, thus committing fraud on insurance companies, to boost their profits.
Facing Racketeering Charges? Speak with an Attorney
Racketeering charges are considered a first-degree felony, punishable with up to 30 years in prison and a hefty fine of up to $10,000. Do not take these charges lightly. If you’ve been charged with racketeering or a related crime, contact a criminal defense attorney in Pompano Beach to learn more about the severity of the charges you’re facing and your options moving forward. There are defenses such as lack of knowledge, withdrawal, and lack of “pattern of racketeering activity,” your attorneys can use in your case to fight for your rights.