RICO Defense Lawyer in Tampa
Our racketeering defense attorneys stand ready to fight for you
The terms “RICO” and “racketeering” often conjures up images of organized crime. However, many other organizations and individuals have been charged under the The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, including he Hell’s Angels, the Catholic Church, the Police Department of Key West, Florida and Alibaba. Individuals who are charged sometimes aren’t aware they committed a crime until they’re arrested. If you find yourself in this situation in Hillsborough County or elsewhere in Florida, call a Racketeering and RICO defense lawyer in Tampa immediately to ensure your rights are protected from the start.
The RICO Act covers illegal activities, and the charges are brought at the federal level. The original purpose of the RICO Act was to provide leverage against the actions of organized crime, and in the 1970s, was successfully used in cases against Mafia figures. In more recent years, it has been used to bring charges against a variety of other individuals and groups. Often, the prosecution has not been successful in showing that the requirements of racketeering have been met, and the accused have prevailed against the charges with the help of their Tampa racketeering defense attorneys. Some of the racketeering crimes covered by RICO are:
- Extortion. Through coercion, obtaining property, money, or services from another person or institution is illegal.
- Bribery. Offering gifts of property or money in exchange for particular influences or treatments can be charged as an illegal act.
- Illegal gambling. In Florida, casino gambling is allowed on Indian reservations. Betting on horse races is also legal. In addition, the amounts that can be wagered are also limited by Florida laws.
- Loan sharking. Money loans are generally originated through regulated organizations like banks and other financial institutions. A loan shark is in the same business, but with no restraining lending, interest, and collection policies.
- Money laundering. Hiding the source of illegally procured money is a white collar crime. The source of the money is often obscured by setting up a second, legal, cash-based operation.
- Counterfeiting. Today, designer consumer products are probably more often counterfeited than money. Both types of counterfeiting have been charged in federal courts under the RICO Act.
- Others. RICO Act lists 35 crimes in total that can be prosecuted as racketeering.
Do not say anything that might incriminate you. Speak with an attorney first.
One of the key characteristics of these activities to fall under the RICO Act is that they must be done as part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Ongoing generally means that there were two or more instances of the activity. Another is that it involved interstate or foreign commerce. Federal prosecutors must also prove that the defendant was directly active in, invested in or had an interest in the illegal activity. Here is a look at some racketeering cases that may help you get a better understanding of the law if you are facing charges in Tampa, Hillsborough County or elsewhere in Florida and the United States:
The Hell’s Angels
In the late ’70s, federal prosecutors brought charges against the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club in Oakland, California. They tried to prove the members had shown a pattern of RICO offenses related to guns and illegal drugs. The trial resulted in a hung jury because proof was not provided that it was club policy to engage in actions involving guns and illegal drugs.
The Catholic Church
Charges have been brought in Florida, throughout the United States and around the world against alleged abuses by clergy members and cover-ups by higher positions within the Church. In some jurisdictions, RICO has been used to bring charges against the higher-ups in the Catholic organizations. In other cases, RICO has been considered, but charges under the law were not pursued.
Key West, Florida Police
In the mid-1980s, the Key West, Florida, Police Department was declared to be a criminal enterprise under the federal RICO Act. Several high-ranking officers of the department were arrested on federal charges of regularly providing protection for illegal cocaine smugglers. During the trial in the federal courts of Florida, a witness testified he had delivered bags of cocaine to the police department office at City Hall. Twelve of the fourteen officers charged were found guilty.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
Alibaba is an online selling company that sells more than eBay and Amazon combined. In other words, they were a huge online retail site. A U.S. District Court unsuccessfully tried to show that sellers on the site were an illegal enterprise. The defendant admitted to selling counterfeit goods but showed that these sales are individual transactions and not an illegal enterprise.
As you can see from these examples, proving related charges can be difficult. Tampa racketeering defense attorney Joffe Law, P.A. will stand by your side and work tirelessly to defend your case if you have been charged or think you may be charged with any kind of RICO Act violations.
Possible defenses against RICO & racketeering charges
At this point, you have probably recognized that the RICO Act coverage is complicated. Racketeering charges can only be defended by a Tampa racketeering lawyer who is familiar with the activities of the Federal Court and Attorney General’s Office. Joffe Law will make sure that your rights are protected every step along the way of your case. After reviewing the facts of your case, we could help you construct a position that shows you did not commit or conspire to commit the activities that you are charged with. Another successful defense could be that you were not acting to benefit a criminal enterprise.
Retain a federal defense lawyer near you
Charges brought against you by the U.S. District Attorney’s office in Tampa in violation of the RICO Act can be very serious. The penalties for this serious white collar crime can be very costly, and the years of imprisonment can be many if you are convicted in Hillsborough County.
This is not the time to trust an inexperienced lawyer. Joffe Law will gather all the details of your case from your perspective and from the U.S. Attorney. Based on your actions and the events leading up to your charges, a Tampa RICO attorney from our firm will research the details and develop workable defense positions. RICO charges are tricky and could be difficult to prove. Let a local racketeering defense lawyer in Tampa help fight for your rights – and your freedom.