Jacksonville police are again using federal racketeering laws to bring in arrests by the bunches in Northwest Jacksonville. The latest haul was seven men police say are in the “Grand Park gang,” named after the neighborhood that’s the gang’s home turf and one of the most violent areas in Jacksonville, according to the Florida Times-Union. The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office started using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (known as RICO) over the past two years to charge people as running an organized criminal enterprise, or a gang. The RICO law allows prosecutors to bundle the actions together and point to them as proof of a criminal racket. The charges carry stiffer penalties in Florida than street-level crimes.
Essentially the state is using multiple charges with less serous penalties and charging them as a gang crime to ratchet up the maximum prison sentence. State Attorney Angela Corey said at a news conference earlier this year that RICO statutes help prosecutors because if the state can’t nail down a more serious crime, they can charge it as an enterprise and get a longer sentence. Police used a similar strategy with a gang off of 103rd Street and another near 45th Street and Moncrief Avenue. The state attorney and sheriff will periodically hold press conferences to announce a slew of sentencings and emphasize how many years in sentences people have received. What they don’t say is for every big sentence, there are people who only receive probation.
The RICO laws are another example of the seemingly endless supply of tools law enforcement has at its disposal. If you or your loved is accused of a gang crime or of being part of an ongoing criminal enterprise, you need a Jacksonville criminal defense attorney in your corner. The RICO arrests can end up being similar to what happens in federal court – make a bunch of arrests at once among people who know each other and see who starts squealing first. To the state’s credit, it has worked and helped solve more than one homicide in the last few years. But it also is another example of the importance of having an experienced Jacksonville criminal defense attorney on board immediately to help understand the state’s case and just who and what they are after.
If you need a criminal defense attorney in Jacksonville or the surrounding area, call The Mussallem Law Firm, PA at (904) 365-5200 for a free consultation. Our Duval County drug crimes lawyer is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.