Florida’s RICO Act
The Florida RICO (“Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization”) Act prohibits participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering. The RICO Act created under Florida law closely mirrors the RICO Act created under Federal law, although important differences exist.
Florida Statutes 895 allows prosecutors to charge a complete enterprise all at once. In fact, the Florida legislature specifically defined a criminal gang under 874 as one type of enterprise under Florida’s RICO Act.
Florida’s RICO statute also allows prosecutors to add up historic convictions with a newly charged crime. To charge a RICO criminal violation, the prosecutor must first prove that an enterprise exists and then that the defendants committed individual predicate incidents in furtherance of the enterprise.
RICO prosecutions often involve complicated and voluminous wiretap evidence, business records, or other financial documents.
Effective on July 1, 2016, Chapter 2016-24, amended the civil portions of the RICO statutes under Chapter 895. The new legislation allowed for an investigative agency on behalf of the state to institute a civil forfeiture proceeding for real or personal tangible and intangible property.
The new legislation for the RICO Act also states that a civil investigative subpoena is confidential for 120 days after its issuance, and the subpoenaed person or entity may not disclose its existence to anyone else other than their counsel.
Attorney for RICO / Racketeering in Tampa, FL
Contact the criminal defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm to discuss any investigation involving a violation of Florida’s RICO Act, including gang, drug trafficking, fraud, and other types of allegations involving organized crimes.
We represent clients charged with racketeering and conspiracy to racketeering in the greater Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Bartow in Polk County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, and St. Petersburg and Clearwater in Pinellas County, FL.
We aggressively fight white collar crime accusations as well as cases involving organized crime under state and federal law.
During the free initial consultation, we can discuss the charges pending against you, the potential penalties, and the best defenses that can be used to fight the charges. Contact us today to set up a free consultation to discuss the case.
Florida’s RICO or Racketeering Act
A violation of Florida’s RICO Act alleges participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering. The crime is charged as a first-degree felony punishable by up to 30 years in Florida State Prison. The elements of the offense include:
- The person arrested for racketeering was associated with an enterprise;
- The person arrested for racketeering either directly or indirectly participated in the enterprise by engaging in at least two incidents of “racketeering activity;” and
- For those incidents in which the person arrested for racketeering was engaged, at least two of them had either similar or the same types of the following:
- methods of commission; or
- were interrelated by distinguishing characteristics that were not isolated incidents.
Florida law defines “racketeering activity” as committing, attempting to commit, conspiring to commit, soliciting to commit, coercing to commit, or intimidating another person to commit and of the criminal charges listed in Florida Statute Section 895.02(1)(a) that could be charged by information, indictment, or petition.
The prosecutor is not required to prove that any of the predicate acts nor the RICO enterprise itself involved any underlying economic motivation.
The charging document is not required to identify the relationship between the defendants and the crimes alleged on its face.
Statute of Limitations for RICO Violations under Florida Law
At least one of the predicate acts forming the pattern of racketeering activity must have commenced or begun within five (5) years after the cause of action accrues or the conduct terminates. At least two of the predicate incidents forming the pattern of racketeering activity must have occurred within five years of each other.
In other words, the statute of limitations is five (5) years for any crime charged under Florida Statute Section 895.04(1) for engaging in activity in violation of the provisions of s. 895.03, which is a felony in the first degree.
Pursuant to 895.05(11), there is a five-year statute of limitations for all RICO offenses. Expiration of the Statute of Limitations on one of the underlying “predicate” offenses, prohibits it from being prosecuted separately as a stand-alone offense but does not necessarily prohibit its use as a predicate offense under F.S. 895.02(8)(a).
Contact a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa to find out more about the statute of limitations that applies to RICO cases prosecuted in federal court.
Local Procedures for RICO Prosecutions in Hillsborough County, FL
According to Hillsborough County’s Administrative Order S-2020-014, which supersedes Administrative Order S-2017-009, the circuit criminal division found it necessary to update the provisions regarding the assignment of drug-related offenses and RICO charges.
Under the recent administrative order that became effective on February 24, 2020, all newly filed cases charging a violation of the Florida RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization) Act (sections 895.01 – 895.06, Florida Statutes) are assigned to the division that was identified as the proposed division.
All pending cases involving any defendant charged in the indictment or information will be transferred to the division to which the RICO case is assigned.
Florida’s RICO Statute under Chapter 895 – Visit the website of the Florida Legislature to find the statutory scheme for offenses concerning racketeering and illegal debts under Chapter 896. Find the short title, definitions, prohibited activities and defenses, the criminal penalties and alternative fine and civil remedies, the RICO lien notice, and the disposition of funds obtained through forfeiture proceedings.
Civil RICO Claims: The Challenge of Alleging the “Pattern” Element – Article in The Florida Bar Journal authored by Karen D. Walker and Michael G. Tanner in the May 2002 Volume LXXVI, No. 5 Issue. The article discusses why Civil RICO claims are a potent weapon for plaintiffs, but also difficult to successfully plead. The article also addresses why courts should scrutinize the allegations closely to ensure that they show the “continuity plus relationship” required to establish a “pattern” of racketeering activity. The column is submitted on behalf of the Trial Lawyers Section of the Florida Bar.
Florida Gang Reduction through RICO Prosecutions – Visit the “Florida Gang Reduction” website of the Office of the Attorney General of Florida. The website explains Florida’s RICO Act and sets out a comprehensive and coordinated plan to reduce criminal gang activity in Florida through a statewide gang strategy. Find contact information for each Regional Gang Reduction Task Force. The website also features press releases on the Attorney General’s recent gang member convictions and prosecutions. Use the website to download the Attorney General’s Gang Reduction Report, now in its fifth year. The report serves as a set of metrics for determining the long-term success of reducing criminal gangs in Florida.
This article was last updated on Friday, September 25, 2020.