Criminal Profiteering in California mirrors the federal charge of Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO), and is intended to penalize a pattern of criminal behavior stemming from organized crime. Otherwise called California Control of Profits of Organized Crime, being charged under this statute is serious and should be treated as such.
While there are meritorious defenses to criminal profiteering, note that prosecutors tend to use these charges mainly when communities are riddled with organized crime. Learn more about the Act and how to prepare your defense of these allegations.
What is Considered Criminal Profiteering Activity?
Chapter 9 of the California Penal Code discusses criminal profiteering in great detail, including what activity must transpire in order for charges to be filed. With organized crime being the common denominator in many charges filed under Chapter 9, the burden of proof is much stronger for prosecutors, which is the reason these charges are reserved for when there is absolute certainty.
Organized crime is defined as that which is conspiratorial in nature, with activity ranging from prostitution, illegal loans (loan sharking), narcotic sales and gambling, to mayhem (as defined in Section 203), pimping and pandering, grand theft, welfare fraud, fraud against California’s beverage container program, and even forcing those under 18 to commit the above offenses. In all, CPC lists 34 crimes.
Any combination of two crimes within a 10-year period with the intent to financially benefit a criminal organization can be charged as criminal profiteering. Once filed, prosecution will file a Verified Petition for Asset Forfeiture along with charges indicative of the crime committed.
Penalties and Defenses to Criminal Profiteering
When imposing penalties, prosecutors are more interested in stopping the flow of money. Therefore, placing state liens on property, bank accounts and other assets which “dirty” money purchased seems the best remedy. The financial trial normally happens after the criminal portion takes place, however.
Sentencing in the criminal trial depends on the crimes that contributed to the ill-gotten gains. Expect the penalties to range between probation and years behind bars, depending on the seriousness of crime and one’s past record.
There are some situations in which individuals may own property that was used in criminal profiteering activity, but did not actually commit the crime. After the trials are over, the property owner must petition the government to remove liens or take back control of their property.
Defenses to criminal profiteering include not knowing the activity was taking place on the property or within a shared bank account, defendant was not near the crimes when they took place, and others.
Defendants Should Retain Counsel
Accusations of criminal profiteering have serious implications for one’s freedom, property, and other assets. If you have been charged with this and any subsequent offenses, your future depends on what criminal defense you choose.
So many defenses to profiteering exist that you may actually beat your charges. To preserve your assets and keep your criminal record clean, contact an attorney the minute you have been accused or are under investigation for criminal profiteering or similar offenses.