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What is Enterprise Corruption (PC 460.20)?

Business people sending documents under the table

“Enterprise corruption” is a powerful tool for New York prosecutors. Enterprise corruption is a serious criminal charge in its own right, but it also allows prosecutors to charge a group of people together and impose more serious charges on a lesser member of an alleged criminal organization. Enterprise corruption charges are typically brought in cases involving white-collar and organized crime. If you are under investigation for white-collar crimes or you have been charged with enterprise corruption, you need a zealous New York criminal defense attorney on your side as soon as possible to protect your rights and your freedom.

What is Enterprise Corruption?

Enterprise corruption is essentially New York State’s version of the federal RICO (racketeering) statutes. Enterprise corruption is meant to prosecute members of a criminal organization, such as a gang, a mafia, or a white-collar criminal enterprise. The statute allows the government to prosecute lower-level members, such as street-level drug dealers, with serious felony charges based on their connection to the broader organization. Often, prosecutors use such serious charges as a threat to coerce members of a criminal enterprise into cooperating with the government in exchange for reduced charges.

Defining Enterprise Corruption Under the Law

To prove enterprise corruption, the prosecution must establish several specific elements. The government must show that:

  • The defendant had knowledge of the existence of a criminal organization and the nature of its activities, and
  • The defendant is employed by or associated with the criminal enterprise, and the defendant either:
    • Intentionally participated in the affairs of a criminal enterprise by engaging in a pattern of criminal activity, or
    • Intentionally acquires or maintains interest or control of the enterprise by participating in a pattern of criminal activity, or
    • Participates in a pattern of criminal activity and invests criminal proceeds in a criminal enterprise

The statute goes further to require that the defendant engaged in at least three criminal acts in furtherance of the conspiracy, at least two of which must be felonies other than conspiracy. The acts must have been committed within a certain time frame as well.

What Are the Penalties for Enterprise Corruption?

Enterprise corruption is a class B felony. That’s an incredibly serious charge, in line with first-degree grand larceny, sex trafficking, and aggravated vehicular homicide. Class B felonies include a mandatory minimum prison sentence of at least one to three years. That means that you will face prison time unless the prosecution reduces or drops the charges, or you are otherwise acquitted. Enterprise corruption is punishable by up to 25 years in a New York state prison.

Enterprise corruption charges also carry a number of secondary consequences. You might lose access to your business or your assets during the trial. You could be forced to surrender your business assets upon conviction, and you may owe substantial fines and restitution. Even simply being charged with a serious white-collar crime can do serious damage to your reputation and business. You need a seasoned corruption defense layer on your team as soon as possible to protect you against the worst consequences of prosecution and conviction.

Defending Against Enterprise Corruption Charges

Enterprise corruption is a complex crime with several specific elements, all of which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The government must show that the defendant knew about the criminal enterprise–that the organization exists, that its design, scheme, purpose and foundation are criminal, etc.–and that the defendant intentionally and explicitly participated in that criminal enterprise. It’s not enough to know about the organization and look the other way; the defendant must have committed at least three identifiable crimes in furtherance of the criminal enterprise.

There are any number of defenses that may apply in a given enterprise corruption case. The defendant may have committed their own conduct without any knowledge of a larger criminal enterprise, they may not have committed enough predicate criminal acts in furtherance of the organization’s criminal purpose, or they may not have committed sufficiently serious acts (at least two felonies). Talk to a savvy corruption defense lawyer about your case and how to build your strongest defense against serious criminal charges.

Dedicated Legal Help Fighting Your New York Enterprise Corruption Charges

If you have been arrested for enterprise corruption or other serious criminal offenses in New York, call Dupée & Monroe, P.C., to get help from a passionate criminal defense lawyer. From our offices in Goshen, we represent clients charged with all manner of criminal offenses in Orange County and throughout the Hudson Valley.

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