The State of California has had more than its fair share of problems and issues with organized crime. The term itself most likely brings up visions of ‘Scarface’ and Bugsy Siegel, but organized crime isn’t always so infamous and nationally recognized.
California lawmakers decided that putting an end to the criminal profiteering of organized crime would likely curb much of its occurrence. The California Control of Profits of Organized Crime Act even regards some street gang activity as criminal profiteering. There are several crimes that fall under the umbrella of criminal profiteering, and anyone who is facing a charge related to it will definitely need a good lawyer if they don’t want to lose all of their possessions.
What is Criminal Profiteering?
California Penal Code 186 deals with the definition and penalties related to criminal profiteering. While these codes do not attempt to set a specific prison time for people engaged in the act, they do apply certain penalties in an effort to reduce the occurrence of such activities. Several crimes can fall under the criminal profiteering law, but they all have the same penalty.
Criminal profiteering is an act that is attempted or committed whose commission is meant to cause advantage or financial gain for the party committing the act. This also includes threats that are made for advantage or financial gain. The specific act must be one that is capable of being charged as a crime under at least thirty-three different California statutes. The law basically says that if any of these thirty-three legal statutes are violated in an attempt to profit or gain advantage, then the criminal act, regardless of what it is, falls under criminal profiteering as well.
For criminal profiteering penalties to take effect, a repeat pattern of these activities must be proven. When more than one of the crimes mentioned in the statute is committed with the same purpose, results, method of commission, or are somehow interrelated by other distinguishing characteristics, it is enough to prove a pattern of criminal profiteering activities. This gives the state the right to certain assets owned by the offending party.
The penal code mentions several crimes that, if committed for financial gain or advantage, are considered criminal profiteering. Some of these crimes include embezzlement, extortion, gambling, murder and kidnapping. Other crimes mentioned would usually never pop into a person’s mind when they thought of organized crime – including child pornography, unauthorized access to computer systems, stealing a person’s personal identification information and stealing vehicles – but they can be related.
The above crimes are by no means the only ones that could be related to criminal profiteering. Even the attempted commission of many of these crimes is considered criminal profiteering. The underlying similarity between all of these crimes is the fact that, if they are committed with intent to profit from the commission of the crime, they are considered criminal profiteering – and if a pattern of this activity becomes apparent, the perpetrator will be held financially liable.
Penalties and Consequences
The penalties listed for criminal profiteering are not related to time served in prison but rather to financial assets. The state can actually place a lien on property that they believe was received or purchased with profits from the crime. If a person is subsequently convicted of the underlying crime, this property will be forfeited to the government.
There are some instances where someone who owns specific property that was involved in criminal profiteering, but did not engage in the activity, can keep their property; the process of keeping this property requires filing papers with the government. When this is not the case, however, the government will restrict property from being transferred or sold until after the criminal trial is over.
Once a person is found guilty, they will immediately face a trial that decides whether their property was purchased through criminal profiteering activities. If the jury in this trial believes the prosecuting attorney’s assertions, then the accused person will not only face sentencing for the underlying offense, they will lose their property as well.
Criminal profiteering is an especially equitable business for those who violate the law in an effort to gain money or resources. California takes these crimes very seriously and this law attempts to stop their commission through the seizure of property and money gained through their commission. Any person accused of a crime in which the prosecuting attorney claims a pattern of criminal profiteering has emerged should get a lawyer immediately. These people not only face the loss of their freedom but the loss of all of their worldly possessions as well.