What Is Racketeering in Georgia? [2024 Updated]

Lawrence J. Zimmerman

Racketeering, in simplest terms, is running a “racket,” which is to say, an illegitimate business (scam, scheme, etc.) that is collecting a profit repeatedly and/or consistently, often through illegal means such as extortion. Typically, this is what law enforcement refers to as “organized crime,” and it can cover a wide variety of crimes. If you’ve been charged with or are under investigation for racketeering, a Georgia racketeering lawyer can prove an invaluable asset.

What is Racketeering in Georgia?

What Is Federal Racketeering Law?

At the federal level, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO Act) defines racketeering loosely as committing multiple violations of certain varieties within a ten-year period. Certain varieties, in this instance, largely refer to organized criminal activity running some kind of “racket.” To be considered a criminal enterprise or “racket,” there must be multiple people involved in the criminal acts.

An example of racketeering could look like what most would refer to as a “Loan Shark” business. Under the guise of a legitimate loan business, this racket offers high interest rates, strict collection dates and enforcement, as well as typically “off-the-record” dealings. This is usually an organized group that has a number of “salesmen” and “collectors.”

Frequently operating in cash exclusively, these rackets operate outside of the law, often with coercive and extortionary practices by offering high loan amounts, using a “pay later” system with exceedingly high interest rates, and typically targeting vulnerable individuals.

Although it is fairly vague and difficult to truly understand, the RICO Act, simply put, is meant to cover a significant amount of criminal activity under one umbrella. It offers flexibility to prosecutors to indict criminal organizations, allows individuals who participated in criminal organizations to be prosecuted, and has created a simple way to attempt to stop organized crime.

How Is Georgia’s Racketeering Law Different?

Georgia’s version of the RICO Act was enacted in 1980, 10 years after its federal counterpart. Georgia’s law differs in relatively crucial ways. For example, a criminal enterprise doesn’t need to be earning a profit for it to be considered a racket, so long as it is some form of illegitimate, often non-violent, activity.

This was notably seen in the Atlanta Public Schools scandal of 2009, in which teachers took standardized tests in place of students or corrected their answers in order to boost test scores. While the teachers involved in the scandal were not committing a crime in order to make a profit, the broad guidelines of the Georgia RICO Act allowed them to be charged and convicted.

Additionally, unlike the federal RICO Act, which states that a criminal enterprise must involve two or more people, the Georgia RICO Act requires only one person to be involved. In fact, a single individual who has committed a minimum of two interrelated crimes toward a common goal can be referred to as a “racketeering criminal enterprise.”

For instance, a single person who steals valued car parts, like catalytic converters or tires, and sells them to mechanics as a “trusted salesman and supplier” could be referred to as a criminal organization committing racketeering.


Q: What Is Racketeering in Georgia?

A: Racketeering is a broad term that largely has to do with organized crime and illegitimate businesses, which are usually collecting some kind of profit. In Georgia, racketeering is defined as at least one person committing a series of interrelated crimes that may or may not result in profit. It’s a purposefully vague law meant to be more flexible so that prosecutors can charge criminals for organized crime.

Q: What Is the Sentence for a RICO Charge in Georgia?

A: The sentence for a RICO charge in Georgia varies, largely dependent on the severity of the crime as well as the total financial sum collected, assuming there was any. The minimum sentence for a RICO charge in Georgia is five years of prison followed by a fine of $25,000 or three times the amount of money collected through the racket.

Q: What Is an Example of Racketeering?

A: One example of racketeering often seen in movies and TV is a “protection” racket. In exchange for a predetermined amount of money, the racket will protect their “client” from things like arson and robbery. However, this is usually under the threat of those same acts of violence if they don’t take the services, pay the full amount on time, and pay every time.

Q: How Do I Know if Someone Is Committing Racketeering?

A: Racketeering isn’t always easy to notice, but it has many identifying factors. When observing someone you suspect may be committing racketeering, think about what it is that the business or person provides to their clients. Ask the following questions:

  • Does the product they offer sound legitimate?
  • Are they providing a product to their client without coercion or extortion?
  • Are they able to explain their business in a straightforward manner?

If the answer is no, racketeering may be plausible.

Q: How Is Racketeering Reported?

A: There are two methods to report racketeering. The first method is to immediately contact local police and file a police report about the situation. Usually, they can assist people with their concerns and even conduct an investigation. However, depending on the type of racket, this may not always be the case. The other method is to contact the Department of Justice to report the crime online. If you are under investigation for racketeering, regardless of how it was reported, a lawyer can protect your rights.

Contact a Georgia Racketeering Lawyer Today

If you’ve been accused of racketeering in the state of Georgia, contact The Law Office of Lawrence J. Zimmerman immediately so that we can help you with your case. We can walk you through your case and represent you in order to achieve the greatest outcome possible.

For over 25 years, our team has been helping people facing racketeering charges across Georgia. When you work with The Law Office of Lawrence J. Zimmerman, you can depend on a team that provides you with the support, experience, and quality representation you deserve.

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