When police in Florida conduct lengthy investigations involving multiple suspects, there is a risk for the accused that prosecutors will decide to bring felony criminal charges under the Florida Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act, otherwise known as Florida RICO.
Being convicted of a RICO charge can lead to many years of incarceration, and anyone accused of a RICO offense will need a strong and effective defense strategy. A group of people could face RICO charges if investigators claim the individuals are involved in organized crime. Drug crimes, sex trafficking, auto theft and murder are common types of crimes that prosecutors attempt to lump into RICO prosecutions.
What must prosecutors prove?
To convict someone of a RICO crime, prosecutors must prove the existence of a criminal enterprise. Prosecutors must then prove that the accused individuals acted in furtherance of the criminal enterprise.
RICO cases often involve long periods of surveillance and investigation by police. RICO cases also frequently involve wiretap evidence, financial documents, business records and confidential informants (CIs). Each of these investigative techniques and types of evidence must be closely scrutinized to mount the strongest possible defense against RICO charges.
Some RICO cases involve a civil component
In addition to its criminal law components, the Florida RICO statute also has a civil component that allows for the personal property of the accused to be taken by authorities. This aspect of the law is known as civil forfeiture, and in some cases, the entire family of the accused may be deprived of property that was allegedly obtained through a criminal enterprise.
If you or someone you love is being investigated for or charged with organized crime, the importance of early intervention by an experienced criminal defense attorney cannot be overstated. The stakes are high in RICO cases, and you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer before you say anything to police or prosecutors.