2021 Georgia Code
Title 16 - Crimes and Offenses
Chapter 14 - Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations
§ 16-14-2. Findings and Intent of General Assembly

Universal Citation: GA Code § 16-14-2 (2021)
  1. The General Assembly finds that a severe problem is posed in this state by the increasing sophistication of various criminal elements and the increasing extent to which the state and its citizens are harmed as a result of the activities of these elements.
  2. The General Assembly declares that the intent of this chapter is to impose sanctions against those who violate this chapter and to provide compensation to persons injured or aggrieved by such violations. It is not the intent of the General Assembly that isolated incidents of misdemeanor conduct or acts of civil disobedience be prosecuted under this chapter. It is the intent of the General Assembly, however, that this chapter apply to an interrelated pattern of criminal activity motivated by or the effect of which is pecuniary gain or economic or physical threat or injury. This chapter shall be liberally construed to effectuate the remedial purposes embodied in its operative provisions.

(Code 1933, § 26-3401, enacted by Ga. L. 1980, p. 405, § 1; Ga. L. 1997, p. 672, § 1; Ga. L. 2015, p. 693, § 2-25/HB 233.)

Editor's notes.

- Ga. L. 1997, p. 672, § 2, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that the Act shall have retroactive application to the fullest extent permitted by the Constitutions of Georgia and the United States.

Ga. L. 2015, p. 693, § 2-25/HB 233, effective July 1, 2015, reenacted this Code section without change. Refer to bound volume for text of this Code section.

Ga. L. 2015, p. 693, § 4-1/HB 233, not codified by the General Assembly, provides that: "This Act shall become effective on July 1, 2015, and shall apply to seizures of property for forfeiture that occur on or after that date. Any such seizure that occurs before July 1, 2015, shall be governed by the statute in effect at the time of such seizure."

Law reviews.

- For article, "A Comprehensive Analysis of Georgia RICO," see 9 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 537 (1993). For article commenting on the 1997 amendment of this Code section, see 14 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 90 (1997). For article on the 2015 amendment of this Code section, see 32 Ga. St. U.L. Rev. 1 (2015).

JUDICIAL DECISIONS

Not element of civil cause of action.

- Expression of legislative purpose in enacting O.C.G.A. Ch. 14, T. 16 is not an element of a civil cause of action under the Georgia RICO Act, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq. State v. Shearson Lehman Bros., 188 Ga. App. 120, 372 S.E.2d 276 (1988).

O.C.G.A. Ch. 14, T. 16 requires the plaintiff to allege an organized crime nexus. Georgia Gulf Corp. v. Ward, 701 F. Supp. 1556 (N.D. Ga. 1987).

Allegations of enterprise and racketeering not necessary.

- Plaintiff's failure to separately allege that defendants were engaged in an "enterprise" as well as a pattern of racketeering did not preclude issuance of a preliminary injunction against the defendants. Cotton, Inc. v. Phil-Dan Trucking, Inc., 270 Ga. 95, 507 S.E.2d 730 (1998).

Nexus between organized crime and the economy.

- Plaintiff's failure to allege a nexus between organized crime and the economy is of no consequence. Cotton, Inc. v. Phil-Dan Trucking, Inc., 270 Ga. 95, 507 S.E.2d 730 (1998).

Securing debt.

- Because the General Assembly did not intend to proscribe a bank's attempts to secure payment of a debt through legal means, the trial court did not err in finding that the debtors failed to offer evidence of a pattern of racketeering to support a RICO claim. All Fleet Refinishing, Inc. v. W. Ga. Nat'l Bank, 280 Ga. App. 676, 634 S.E.2d 802 (2006).

Intent to cause harm.

- Evidence sufficient to show a racketeer influenced and corrupt organization violation necessarily also demonstrates the "intent to cause harm" that removes the cap to a punitive damage award. Speir v. Krieger, 235 Ga. App. 392, 509 S.E.2d 684 (1998).

Credit company to which retail installment contract assigned.

- Credit company to which automobile dealer assigned retail installment contract was not a member of the "organized criminal elements" at which the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act is aimed. Doxie v. Ford Motor Credit Co., 603 F. Supp. 624 (S.D. Ga. 1984).

Repeated sale of non-existent insurance.

- While the illegal sale of insurance is not in and of itself a basis for a racketeer influenced and corrupt organization (RICO) action absent further evidence of fraud rising to the level of theft by deception, the repeated sale to unsuspecting consumers of non-existent insurance was the very essence of such fraud and was exactly the type of criminally fraudulent activity masquerading as "business" that RICO was designed to address. Speir v. Krieger, 235 Ga. App. 392, 509 S.E.2d 684 (1998).

Preponderance of evidence standard in civil cases.

- In a civil action under the Georgia RICO Act, O.C.G.A. § 16-14-1 et seq., given the similarities in the purpose and language of the federal and Georgia RICO statutes, together with the General Assembly's mandate to liberally construe the Act to effectuate its remedial purposes, under O.C.G.A. § 16-14-2(b), the applicable standard of proof in state civil RICO actions was held to be a preponderance of the evidence; thus, the Supreme Court of Georgia overruled Simpson Consulting, Inc. v. Barclays Bank PLC, 227 Ga. App. 648 (490 S.E.2d 184) (1997), and those other cases holding to the contrary, specifically, Blanton v. Bank of America, 256 Ga. App. 103 (2002), In re Copelan, 250 Ga. App. 856 (2001), and Tronitec, Inc. v. Shealy, 249 Ga. App. 442 (2001). Williams Gen. Corp. v. Stone, 279 Ga. 428, 614 S.E.2d 758 (2005).

Cited in Waller v. State, 251 Ga. 124, 303 S.E.2d 437 (1983); Five Star Partners v. Vincent Netherlands Properties, 169 Bankr. 994 (Bankr. N.D. Ga. 1994); Security Life Ins. Co. v. Clark, 229 Ga. App. 593, 494 S.E.2d 388 (1997); Roberts v. State, 344 Ga. App. 324, 810 S.E.2d 169 (2018); Ga. Lottery Corp. v. Tabletop Media, LLC, 346 Ga. App. 498, 816 S.E.2d 438 (2018), cert. denied, No. S18C1520, 2019 Ga. LEXIS 175 (Ga. 2019).

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