The Florida RICO Act mirrors federal statutes against racketeering, except in two key areas. The statute of limitations for RICO charges in Florida is one year longer than with the federal government. The state also adheres to clear and convincing evidence, a stricter legal standard of proof than the preponderance of evidence standard used in federal RICO cases. In Florida, violating the RICO Act is a first-degree felony that could warrant up to 20 years in state prison.
State laws prohibit racketeering and any related conspiracies. The state may prosecute individuals who agree to the conspiracy objective or personally commit more than one predicate act. The federal and state RICO Acts apply to enterprises with an evident pattern of racketeering. Individuals may be charged with violating the RICO Act if they have been arrested over an association, whether direct or indirect, with a racketeering enterprise as evident by committing more than one predicate act.
Laws against Racketeering
According to Florida statutes, RICO charges could include organizations involved in financial fraud, tax evasion or money laundering. The two acts of racketeering must have commonalities, like co-conspirators, victims, methodology or other evidence of a pattern. Like many federal crimes, racketeering is typically financial. Under the RICO Act, charges can still stand even if the prosecution cannot establish the financial motive. The central focus of racketeering charges is an individual’s participation in sustaining a criminal enterprise.
Creating schemes to defraud the state and illicit public funding may also be considered a violation of the RICO Act. The Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits over RICO violations is four years from the date the plaintiff first discovered the harm. The statute of limitations in Florida is five years from the date the action occurred.