Robert J. Becerra is a Florida Bar Board Certified Specialist in International Law, one of 50 lawyers in Florida with such a certification. He concentrates his practice in the areas of litigation and arbitration, white collar criminal defense, grand jury investigations, corporate compliance and internal investigations, and administrative and judicial proceedings related to international trade matters. Prior to opening his own firm, Becerra practiced at the Miami law firms of Devine Goodman Rasco Watts-FitzGerald & Wells for 2 years and Fuerst Ittleman for 3 years. Before that, he spent 5 years at Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, an international trade law firm, where he headed the firm's white collar defense practice. His early career started at Raskin & Raskin, PA, a white collar criminal defense and litigation boutique, where he practiced for 14 years, the last seven as a partner. He has been counsel of record in a number of reported decisions, some of which resulted in changes in the law, and he has tried a number of cases, mostly jury trials, in both civil and criminal cases.
He consistently receives the highest "AV Preeminent" rating from the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory for legal skills and professional ethics and is rated "Superb" in the lawyer rating website www.AVVO.com. He is listed as a "Super Lawyer" in Super Lawyers Magazine and a "Top Lawyer" in the South Florida Legal Guide. He is listed in the publication "The Best Lawyers in America" 2015-2017 editions under "Criminal Defense: White Collar". He is a member of the Dade County Bar Association; the American Bar Association, where he is a member of the Criminal Justice and Litigation Sections, the Federal Bar Association and trade organizations involved in international trade. He serves on the Executive Council of the International Law Section of the Florida Bar. Becerra also is the Co-Chair of the International Law Section's "iLaw2017: The ILS Global Forum on International Law". He is serving a three year term on the Florida Bar's International Law Certification Committee.
Becerra has been lead counsel in a large number of criminal cases in various federal districts and states involving diverse areas of the criminal law and has tried many of those cases to verdict. He has also been lead counsel in a variety of federal and state appeals and has engaged in numerous appellate oral arguments. He has also been lead counsel in internal investigations conducted by corporations alleged to have violated various regulations and laws, including those involving the seafood industry and the importation of food and drug products. In addition, Becerra has on many occasions prevented criminal charges against clients suspected of wrongdoing by preparing persuasive presentations that convince law enforcement authorities that criminal changes are unwarranted.
Becerra is very experienced handling civil litigation involving international trade issues, such as trademark infringement, gray marketing, cargo loss, errors and omissions by logistics providers and disputes that arise between exporters and importers.
He also has handled many U.S. Customs seizures of goods, liquidated damages and penalty cases, along with civil forfeitures of monies in corporate bank accounts which are alleged by the government to be tainted due to tracings to financial transactions in unregulated foreign exchange markets and trade-based money laundering. He has drafted and implemented anti-money laundering policies and procedures for exporters to mitigate the risk of money seizures. He has litigated civil forfeiture cases against federal and state governments involving the export of luxury automobiles. Becerra also advises clients on the due diligence required to avoid civil or criminal liability for violations of export laws regarding shipments to embargoed countries of controlled goods, and defends clients in export enforcement cases.
Becerra was author of "The Black Market Peso Exchange and the Small Exporter" published in the Florida Bar International Law Section's publication "International Law Quarterly", Winter 2015 issue. He was a co-author of "Criminal Liability for Corporate Officers-The Resurrection of the Park Doctrine in Food and Drug Cases," in Practical Trade & Customs Strategies, a Thomsen Reuters publication in April, 2013. He also authored "A Review of the Adequate Forum Factor in Forum Non Conveniens Analysis in Florida's State and Federal Courts" in the Florida Bar International Law Section's publication "International Law Quarterly", Summer 2014 edition. Becerra was a contributing author to the Annual Review of Developments in Business and Corporate Litigation, 2005 edition (chapter 18, "Intellectual Property"), for the Committee on Business and Corporate Litigation for the American Bar Association. He also authored "Threats of Criminal Action for Advantage in a Civil Dispute: Legal and Ethical Consequences" in the 3rd Annual International Litigation Update: Hot Topics in International Litigation, published by the Florida Bar's International Law Section. He has been published as well in the Journal of Commerce, in web based newsletters and blogs and has been a speaker on a variety of panels and seminars regarding areas of his practice.
Becerra is a 1990 cum laude graduate of the University of Miami School of Law.
Florida Bar Board Certified Expert in International Law — Becerra is one of about 50 lawyers certified by the Florida Bar as an expert in International Law.
White Collar Criminal Defense — Becerra represents individuals and corporations either being investigated or charged with frauds against government agencies or violations of federal regulations involving international trade
Civil Forfeitures — Becerra represents individuals or corporations who have had goods or monies seized by government agencies for alleged violations of the law where the government seeks forfeiture of those goods or monies
Commercial litigation involving international trade — Becerra represents exporters and importers in business disputes and in cases against air, ocean and inland carriers where cargo has been damages or lost
United States v. Cell Tech Electronics, et.al. — Federal criminal case involving allegations of trade-based money laundering through the Colombian Black Market Peso Exchange. Corporate manager faced several years in prison if convicted. Indictment out of San Juan, but defendants' motion to transfer to Florida was granted. Jury trial in March, 2014 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, resulting in acquittal of corporate defendant and its individual manager. Expert testimony used to explain alternative currency markets
Vasquez-Estrella v. Sarmiento et.al. — Florida state court action which alleged that defendant stole $60 million from brokerage in Venezuela. Case was dismissed in defendants' favor after evidentiary hearing, with dueling experts, on defendants' motion to dismiss for forum non conveniens in favor of Venezuela as an alternative forum. Dismissal affirmed on appeal
United States v. 34 Luxury Vehicles — Federal civil forfeiture case involving the government seizure of 21 luxury vehicles from automobile exporter which were bound for Asian markets from the U.S. Government maintained seizure was warranted due to alleged fraud in their purchase from dealers and violation of anti-export policies. After filing motions to dismiss and for probable cause hearing, case settled with government returning all 21 luxury vehicles to exporter without payment of any monies or storage charges.
People v. Wayne Murray — New York state criminal case involving indictment of defendant accused of bookmaking, racketeering and money laundering. After much negotiation, defendant had charges reduced and plead guilty to disorderly conduct, less than a misdemeanor under New York law.
Bay N' Gulf, Inc. v. Anchor Seafood — Florida state court civil action where plaintiff alleged defendant converted a container of frozen fish imported from Brazil. At trial, jury rendered verdict in Plaintiff's favor, finding that defendant was not a bona fide purchaser for value and committed a conversion of the container load of frozen fish, worth about $100,000.
State of New Jersey v. Wells Fargo Account — Forfeiture case brought by New Jersey against funds to be used to purchase vehicles for export to China. Represented auto exporter in California who had provided funds to broker in New Jersey to purchase vehicles from dealership. Obtained favorable settlement during jury selection and after motions in limine were heard. Case was difficult in that New Jersey forfeiture law is very pro-state with few procedural and substantive rights to claimants.