The Freedom Lawyers Specialize in representing those charged as part of RICO and Racketeering Investigations in Both Federal and Superior Court. Our Attorneys represent clients charged with RICO and Racketeering in Cobb County, Fulton County, Dekalb County, Cherokee County, Bartow County, Douglas County, and Clayton County. If you’re looking for a RICO lawyer near Marietta, we represent people charged with Gang related crimes, Robbery and Burglary related RICO cases, Home Invasion RICO cases, Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, and any other RICO case.
While you have likely heard of federal prosecutions for Racketeering, most people don’t know that Georgia has its own RICO statute codified in O.C.G.A. § 16-14-3 and O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4.
To charge someone with a RICO violation in Georgia, the State must show the existence of a “criminal enterprise” and a “pattern of racketeering activity” that furthers the criminal enterprise.
Although Georgia used the federal RICO statute as a model for theirs, the Georgia RICO Act is much broader than the federal law and makes it easier for prosecutors to prove their case. While the Federal RICO statute requires “proof of continuity” and an enterprise, the Georgia RICO Act can be used to prosecute individuals for low-level schemes that have been active for only a short time.
In a criminal defense trial, the state must show three specific elements:
- you were involved in the criminal activity
- the criminal activity was part of a larger pattern of activity
- you committed some act in furtherance of the pattern of crimes
In Georgia, the State only needs to show two separate acts of racketeering or connected criminal activity in a ten-year period related to a criminal enterprise to charge their case.
Our attorneys fight these types of cases and do everything we can to remove you from the conspiracy. We use specialized investigative techniques and research to prepare your case for the best possible outcome. In addition, we use site and scene investigations.
Georgia law defines an ‘Enterprise’ as “any person, sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, business trust, union chartered under the laws of this state, or other legal entity; or any unchartered union, association, or group of individuals associated in fact although not a legal entity; and it includes illicit as well as licit enterprises and governmental as well as other entities.”
Traditionally, RICO has been used to prosecute employee embezzlement cases, Ponzi schemes, credit schemes, complex investment schemes, commercial gambling cases, pain management clinics, and political corruption.
Because of this, it’s natural for most people to think of corrupt business entities when they think of RICO. However, Georgia’s RICO statute is worded so that any group of individuals can be charged as a criminal enterprise under certain circumstances.
For instance, a group of people selling drugs out of a house can be considered a criminal enterprise under RICO. A group of individuals burglarizing houses or breaking into cars can also be considered a criminal enterprise as well. There is no requirement that the group of individuals are part of a gang or other official organization–only that they are operating for a common purpose and that their crimes constitute a “pattern of racketeering activity.”
To be prosecuted under Georgia RICO the underlying crimes must be acts of “racketeering activity,” which are listed in OCGA 16-14-3. Many common crimes can be considered “racketeering activity” if they are committed for the purpose of helping the criminal enterprise.
Predicate crimes that can be considered “racketeering activity” under the RICO statute include the following:
- False Imprisonment
- Smash and grab burglary
- Home Invation
- Criminal reproduction and Sale of Recorded Material
- Forgery in any degree
- Illegal use of financial transaction cards
- Use of an article with an altered identification mark
- Identity Fraud
- False statements and writings
- Influencing witnesses
- Tampering with evidence
- Terroristic threats
- Commercial gambling
- Distributing obscene materials
- Marijuana offenses
- Payday loans
- Insurance fraud
- Removal or falsification of identification numbers
- Possession of motor vehicle parts from which the identification has been removed
- Drug Trafficking
- Human Trafficking
Racketeering Activity can also include violations of the “Georgia Controlled Substances Act,” The “Georgia Residential Mortgage Fraud Act,” The “Georgia Computer Systems Protection Act,” The “Georgia Firearms and Weapons Act,” The “Georgia Uniform Securities Act of 2008.”
Pattern of Criminal Activity
‘Pattern of racketeering activity’ means at least two acts of racketeering activity in furtherance of one or more incidents, schemes, or transactions that have the same or similar intents, results, accomplices, victims, or methods of commission or otherwise are interrelated by distinguishing characteristics and are not isolated incidents.
If convicted, criminal penalties for a violation of the RICO act include a prison sentence of five to twenty years. You could also be fined $25,000 or, in the alternative, up to three times the amount of money earned through the criminal enterprise, whichever is higher.
If convicted, you can also lose your interest in any business or property that was acquired through the racketeering activity. If your RICO violation is business-related, a judge may also prohibit you from ever operating the same type of business as the one involved in the RICO case. Violators of the criminal RICO act can also open themselves up to civil liability (lawsuits) as a result.
A strong RICO defense not only requires fighting the underlying criminal charges, but also showing that any crime potentially committed was an isolated incident and not done in order to help a criminal enterprise. Because of this, it is critical to seek a qualified and experienced attorney to represent you as soon as you are aware of any RICO accusations from the State. Contact The Freedom Lawyers to schedule your RICO/Racketeering Criminal Defense Consultation Now.