Popularized by movies and television, many people in Georgia have heard of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act. While it was enacted and is often associated with organized crime, the state’s RICO Act does not only apply to mobsters. Therefore, it is important for people to understand the act in order to help avoid unnecessary arrests and prosecutions.

According to FindLaw, carrying out illegal activities in order to sustain or further the reach and influence of organizations or criminal enterprises is considered racketeering. Under the Georgia RICO Act, obtaining or keeping control of or interest in any businesses or types of property through racketeering activities is prohibited. In order to prove a pattern of racketeering, there must be at least two felony illegal activities involved.

The RICO Act is charged as a felony level offense. If convicted, people could be fined up to $25,000 for each count against them, sentenced to between five and 20 years in prison, or both.

In addition to the potential criminal penalties, people may also be subject to civil remedies if they are convicted of a RICO violation. According to state law, the civil remedies for a RICO conviction include being required to give up their business interests, real property and personal property; having restrictions imposed on their future investments and activities; having their business licenses or permits suspended or revoked; being required to dissolve completely or to restructure their businesses; or being ordered to pay punitive damages or restitution totaling three times the amount they allegedly stole.