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Texas federal criminal defense attorneyDuring the time following the end of WWII through the early 1970s, the United States experienced a period of massive economic growth. Automation, full employment, and a developing transportation system all enabled significant financial gains across many sectors. However, along with the opportunity to make money came those looking to game the system, and organized crime spiked. 

In response to this influx of organized crime, lawmakers in 1970 signed the Racketeer Influenced and Corruptions (RICO) Act into law and it remains in place to this day. The consequences for federal racketeering charges are serious and defending against them requires a fearless criminal defense attorney with experience combatting state and federal criminal charges

What is Racketeering? 

Racketeering is the act of obtaining money through illegal business activities or extortion. Under the RICO Act, as well as the Texas Penal Code, it is illegal for someone to plan or commit certain crimes in collaboration with an enterprise. What counts as an enterprise, however, is subject to much speculation and frustration because the definition is so vague. While the RICO Act was originally meant to cover organized criminal organizations like the mafia or motorcycle gangs, even people who do not know each other have been found to be in violation of the RICO Act as the government tries to take down allegedly corrupt organizations. 

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Texas federal hate crime defense lawyerExtensive news coverage has been recently given to alleged perpetrators of hate crimes all across America. Sometimes what constitutes a hate crime can seem fairly obvious, but other times charges of hate crimes seem to be overzealously filed against those who are merely expressing their opinions. Both Texas state and federal laws protect citizens against hate crimes, but few people know what actually constitutes a hate crime and may be surprised when charges of a federal hate crime are filed against them. Here are three facts about federal hate crimes. 

What is a Hate Crime? 

When someone assaults a random person on the street and robs them of their wallet, that may seem equally wrong no matter what the sex, race, religion, or national origin of the victim may be. But when the perpetrator of such a crime commits the crime because the victim is a member of a federally protected class, the crime becomes a hate crime. A hate crime is a crime committed against someone who has specific characteristics, whether real or perceived, that are defined and protected under the law. 

Can I Be Charged with a Hate Crime for Planning to Commit a Crime? 

While charges are usually filed against someone who is alleged to have committed a crime such as arson of a religious institution, hate crime charges can also be filed against someone who is alleged to have conspired to commit a crime - even if they never actually did commit the crime they were planning. For example, a man was recently sentenced to 20 years in federal prison for planning to target Jewish worshippers at a synagogue. Although he discussed plans to take action with undercover agents, he never actually attacked the synagogue. 

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Plano federal animal cruelty charges defense attorneyIn 2019, President Trump signed the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act (PACT) into law. Although every state previously had felony charges for cruelty to animals, the bill introduced the possibility of federal criminal charges for similar behavior. Now, federal prosecutors have the power and backing of the federal government to prosecute acts such as encouraging dogs or roosters to participate in fights and even selling or distributing videos of animals fighting.

For people in Texas who have been charged with extreme animal abuse, this new law can enhance already existing Texas state laws and bring serious penalties. If you have been accused of state or federal animal cruelty or abuse, it is essential to get competent criminal defense representation right away. 

What is Animal Cruelty? 

Among other abusive actions, it was already illegal to torture, abandon, overwork, or poison an animal in Texas; abandoning or failing to provide care for an animal is also illegal. Persons convicted under Texas state law of cruelty to animals can lose their animals, pay fines, and face jail time. 

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Texas federal criminal defense lawyerThe state of Texas takes auto theft very seriously; in fact, many cities, including Dallas, have their own auto theft police units. Consequences for stealing a car can range from misdemeanor charges, such as for a juvenile who takes a parent’s car on a joyride without permission, to felony charges at the federal level for grand theft auto. Grand theft auto, which occurs when a vehicle is stolen and moved to a new location with the intent to sell or otherwise deprive the owner permanently, carries serious consequences, including potential federal charges. If you have been charged with auto theft or carjacking, your future employment, reputation, and freedom could be at serious risk. 

Texas State Auto Theft Charges 

Texas has a unique class of criminal charges called “state jail felonies,” which are labeled as a felony but which punish a crime with jail time, rather than prison time. People charged with stealing a car in Texas are usually charged with unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, which is a state jail felony; consequences include a minimum of six months to two years in jail, and fines up to 10,000 dollars. 

However, if a car is worth more than $30,000, the charges can be bumped up to a third-degree felony, which allows between two and ten years in prison and fines up to $10,000. Additional actions, such as car theft performed by a public servant, against an elderly individual, or in conjunction with violent activities like carjacking, the consequences can be increased. 

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Plano federal criminal defense attorneyWhen we think of money laundering in Texas, we might think of relatively small-scale enterprises like car washes, nail salons, and laundromats that offer customers the opportunity to pay in cash and allow the owners to hide ill-gotten money. But in the age of cryptocurrency, money laundering does not follow traditional means of obfuscation.  

Just a few days ago, an American couple made the news when they were arrested for stealing more than 3.6 billion dollars’ worth of cryptocurrency. Charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States, this couple’s situation sheds light on how technology can complicate areas of criminal law that are still being developed. 

Is Money Laundering a State or Federal Crime? 

Even if the crime of money laundering is committed exclusively in the state of Texas, a person may be charged with federal money laundering crimes if they use or try to use money they know was illegally obtained. Certain types of crimes can also bring federal money laundering charges, such as: 

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