Racketeering Laws In Arizona


Racketeering is a common white-collar crime that can include a variety of potential offenses, usually centering around a desire for financial gain. This charge is also commonly associated with illegally operating or controlling a business or enterprise and can involve a long list of crimes, from homicide to counterfeiting.

In Arizona, racketeering is a felony covered under A.R.S. 13-2301 with potentially serious punishments. Because there is a wide range of acts that qualify as racketeering, the punishments are also wide in range and can span from probation to years in prison.

What Is Racketeering?

Racketeering is an umbrella term that encompasses a range of crimes while engaging in a dishonest or fraudulent business scheme for financial gain. According to A.R.S. 13-2301, racketeering is any act that is considered chargeable under the laws of Arizona or another state and punishable by imprisonment for more than one year under the law.

Given this definition, racketeering is a broad term and can be added to a charge of a long list of other crimes if they’re used for financial gain.

The following activities include some of the white and blue-collar crimes that define racketeering as outlined in A.R.S. 13-2301:

  • Intentional or reckless fraud in the purchase or sale of securities.
  • Intentional or reckless false statements or publications concerning land for sale or lease or sale of subdivided lands or sale and mortgaging of un-subdivided lands.
  • Asserting false claims, including, but not limited to, false claims asserted through fraud or arson.
  • Resale of realty with intent to defraud.
  • Theft
  • Intentional or reckless sale of unregistered securities or real property securities.
  • Restraint of trade or commerce in violation of A.R.S. 34-252.
  • Money laundering.
  • Counterfeiting marks as prescribed in A.R.S. 44-1453.

Some blue-collar crimes under racketeering include:

  • Kidnapping
  • Prostitution
  • Terrorism
  • Smuggling of human beings
  • Forgery
  • Bribery
  • Gambling
  • Usury
  • Extortion
  • Homicide
  • Robbery

What is Illegal Control of An Enterprise?

Racketeering is often associated with illegal control of an enterprise or illegally conducting an enterprise, which are crimes covered under A.R.S. 13-2312. Arizona law defines an enterprise as any corporation, partnership, association, labor union, or other associated group of persons, either in a legal entity or not.

Both racketeering and illegal control of an enterprise are covered under Arizona state law. A person is considered to have illegal control of an enterprise if they use racketeering or proceeds from racketeering to acquire or maintain control in a business, whether through investment or other means.

Meanwhile, a person commits illegally conducting an enterprise if they are associated with an enterprise and conduct business affairs through racketeering or participates directly or indirectly in any conduct that involves racketeering.

Keep in mind that racketeering is often confused for RICO charges—RICO charges are not state charges, but instead are federal, referring to the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.

Punishment for Racketeering

The punishment for racketeering depends on the circumstances of the crime. Factors like whether a minor is involved, whether a defendant has prior offenses, and other crimes associated with racketeering all influence the severity of the punishment.

If the racketeering crime involves a minor, then the defendant’s actions are considered a Class Two Felony. First-time offenders face probation with anywhere from zero days in jail to a maximum of one year; there’s a possibility of prison for three to 12.5 years.

  • If a person has one prior conviction, then the prison range moves to anywhere between 4.5 to 23.25 years in prison.
  • If the person has two prior convictions, then the prison range moves to anywhere between 10.5 to 35 years of incarceration.

If the Racketeering does not involve a minor, then it is considered a Class Three Felony, and the accused individual faces probation with a minimum of zero days in jail but up to one year; or prison time between 2 to 8.75 years.

  • If a person has one prior conviction, then the prison time ranges from 3.5 to 16.25 years.
  • If the person has two prior convictions, then the prison time ranges from 7.5 to 25 years.

In addition to these consequences, a defendant will likely also face charges for the predicate offense. Therefore, punishments will also depend on the type of additional offense committed through racketeering. 

For example, racketeering associated with homicide can have harsher penalties than racketeering through gambling due to the severity of the crime. In any case, a convicted defendant would be charged with the punishments for both racketeering and the underlying offense.

Possible Defenses for Racketeering Charges

The right lawyer can help you build a strong defense against racketeering charges. Any potential defense should first start with a defense against the accusation of the predicate offense, whether murder, theft, or another charge. 

Then, the defense must be able to prove that the charge was not committed in association with a criminal enterprise for racketeering purposes. There are three common defenses against racketeering charges. 

Lack of Knowledge

If an enterprise is used to commit racketeering, it’s possible that any partners involved in the ownership of the enterprise could be charged. However, if not all the partners were involved in the act of racketeering, these partners may have a potential defense.

Any other partners who were not aware of the racketeering scheme can use their lack of knowledge as a defense against the charge to highlight that they were not involved in the scheme and did not intend to commit the crime.

Lack of Intent

Lack of intent often refers to partners or business owners who may have unwillingly participated in a racketeering scheme. A common example of a defense citing lack of intent would be if an enterprise had more than one partner, and one of the partners tricks another majority shareholder into signing some unlawful documents that would illegally benefit the company. 

The partner who was duped would have a probable defense against Racketeering. Because the tricked partner who signed the documents did not intend to mislead or participate in the scheme, the defense can argue that they were not involved in the actual act of intentionally committing a crime for financial gain.

Not a Partner

Multiple people associated with an enterprise may be charged for racketeering under suspected involvement. However, if a person is not in a leadership position in an enterprise, they may not be subject to the same harsh penalties as the partners involved.

For a person who is simply an employee of an enterprise and does not have a leadership role, their lack of power in the organization can be used as a defense, especially if they did not control or benefit from funds. The prosecution must prove that they knowingly participated in the scheme.

If the defense can prove that the person was an employee with no knowledge of the racketeering scheme, they can increase the chances of the charges being dropped.

Build a Defense Against Racketeering Charges in Arizona

Racketeering is a serious charge that can come with harsh penalties and long periods of imprisonment, depending on the nature of the crime. Therefore, it’s important that anyone charged with racketeering in Arizona has the right defense lawyer by their side.

If you’re facing potential racketeering charges, then contact JacksonWhite today for a free and private consultation. Our criminal defense team is highly experienced in defending clients against a variety of charges, including racketeering. We’ll work to understand your case so we can help you develop the best possible defense with the goal of reducing your charges.

Call the JacksonWhite Criminal Law team at (480) 418-4281 to discuss your case today.

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