California Racketeering Laws
What is Racketeering?
Organized crime and racketeering often are related. Both terms refer to criminal activities carried out on behalf of a criminal enterprise or association, or to further the goals of a group or organization (often including gangs). The organization’s criminal activities can include a range of unlawful activities such as drug distribution, embezzlement, money laundering, murder, and various other crimes.
State and federal laws are designed to eliminate or weaken the ownership or control of criminal enterprises through racketeering charges. In federal court, the prosecution can file charges through the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO). In California, racketeering laws are part of the California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act.
Organized crime laws punish criminal enterprises that have profited financially from criminal activities or engaged in criminal acts for the purpose of a financial gain. Prosecution must demonstrate a “pattern of criminal profiteering activity” that includes at least 2 criminal incidents that are not isolated events. The prosecutor might show a pattern by tying together the participants, victims, or methods of carrying out criminal acts.
California Racketeering Laws Enforced
Organized crime laws focus on the financial profits gained by criminal enterprises or associations through their participation in criminal activities. Accordingly, California state law seeks to punish and deter participants from racketeering and organized crime through forfeiture laws. During forfeiture, the state seizes control and possession of the defendant’s property.
The prosecuting attorney must show that the property interest, whether tangible or intangible, was:
- Obtained by the defendant through the established pattern of criminal acts intended for financial gain; or
- Received in exchange for property obtained through criminal profiteering activities (as occurs with money laundering)
Forfeiture of property doesn’t prevent the state of California from pursuing charges for the underlying crimes. A sentence of imprisonment or other punishments can still be possible if the state wins a conviction on a separate charge and the penalties will depend on the nature of the underlying charges.
Among other possible defenses, defendants may argue that their activities were not related to the crime enterprise’s activities, operations, or goals. In short, your defense could show that certain facts presented by the prosecution are merely coincidence or circumstantial.
Facing Racketeering Charges? Contact an experienced Defense Attorney Today!
Call the Law offices of Sara D. Bratsch at (559) 713-1542 for a free consultation!