Crimes Involving Other Parties in Georgia can be very complicated. A charge for violating the RICO or Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act is a complicated and severe crime.
What does it mean to violate the RICO Act?
A charge for Rico in Georgia is defined by Georgia law in O.C.G.A. §16-14-4. There are four different ways that can a person can violate the RICO Act.
- “By directly or indirectly acquiring or maintaining any interest in or control of any enterprise, real property or personal property through a pattern of racketeering or the proceeds derived from the activity;
- By directly or indirectly participating in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity while being employed by, or associated with, the enterprise;
- By conspiring or endeavoring to directly or indirectly acquire or maintain any interest in, or control of, any enterprise, real property or personal property through a pattern of racketeering activity or the proceeds derived from a pattern of racketeering activity; or
- By conspiring or endeavoring to directly or indirectly participate in an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity while being employed by, or associated with, the enterprise.”
The most interesting part of the Georgia statute for violating RICO is that a person can be guilty without the existence of an enterprise if his or her actions still constitute racketeering.
What kind of acts constitute racketeering?
Put simply, racketeering is involving yourself in a planned or organized criminal act that usually involves a form of business to earn illegal money over a continuous amount of time.
There has to be a pattern of unlawful conduct. Most of the time there are predicate crimes that show a pattern of unlawful conduct. In Georgia, some of these predicate crimes include:
- drug offenses,
- bodily injury,
- obscene materials,
- witness tampering,
- evidence tampering,
- commercial gambling,
- distilling liquors and alcoholic beverages,
- firearm violations,
- securities violations,
- credit card fraud,
- computer crimes,
- and making terroristic threats.
Georgia Courts hold that a pattern consists of at least two acts of racketeering activity. These two or more acts must be in furtherance of one or more incidents, schemes, or transactions showing the same intent, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of commission. Bottom line - the repetition cannot be a string of “isolated incidents.”
However, the incidents do not have to occur at the same time or even really a similar time - just one of the incidents has to be within four years of the other incident of the racketeering activity.
What is the penalty for conviction of RICO?
In order to be convicted for Rico, the prosecution must demonstrate that the accused person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by showing that there was a pattern of unlawful conduct (the offenses listed above). However, just as with any other crime, Georgia Criminal Defenses still apply.
If convicted of a crime under the RICO Act, the person will be guilty of a felony in Georgia. The punishment can include a prison sentence ranging between five and twenty years or a fine up to three times the amount of value gained from racketeering or up to $25,000.