Title 16, Chapter 14, Section 7
(a) All property of every kind used or intended for use in the
course of, derived from, or realized through a pattern of
racketeering activity is subject to forfeiture to the state.
Forfeiture shall be had by a civil procedure known as a RICO
forfeiture proceeding under the following rules.
(b) A RICO forfeiture proceeding shall be governed by Chapter 11 of
Title 9, the "Georgia Civil Practice Act," except to the extent that
special rules of procedure are stated in this chapter.
(c) A RICO forfeiture proceeding shall be an in rem proceeding
against the property.
(d) A RICO forfeiture proceeding shall be instituted by complaint
and prosecuted by the district attorney of the county in which the
property is located or seized. The proceeding may be commenced
before or after seizure of the property.
(e) If the complaint is filed before seizure, it shall state what
property is sought to be forfeited, that the property is within the
jurisdiction of the court, the grounds for forfeiture, and the names
of all persons known to have or claim an interest in the property.
The court shall determine ex parte whether there is reasonable cause
to believe that the property is subject to forfeiture and that
notice to those persons having or claiming an interest in the
property prior to seizure would cause the loss or destruction of the
property. If the court finds that reasonable cause does not exist to
believe the property is subject to forfeiture, it shall dismiss the
complaint. If the court finds that reasonable cause does exist to
believe the property is subject to forfeiture but there is not
reasonable cause to believe that prior notice would result in loss
or destruction, it shall order service on all persons known to have
or claim an interest in the property prior to a further hearing on
whether a writ of seizure should issue. If the court finds that
there is reasonable cause to believe that the property is subject to
forfeiture and to believe that prior notice would cause loss or
destruction, it shall without any further hearing or notice issue a
writ of seizure directing the sheriff of the county where the
property is found to seize it.
(f) Seizure may be effected by a law enforcement officer authorized
to enforce the penal laws of this state prior to the filing of the
complaint and without a writ of seizure if the seizure is incident
to a lawful arrest, search, or inspection and the officer has
probable cause to believe the property is subject to forfeiture and
will be lost or destroyed if not seized. Within ten days of the date
of seizure, the seizure shall be reported by the officer to the
district attorney of the circuit in which the seizure is effected;
and the district attorney shall, within a reasonable time after
receiving notice of seizure, file a complaint for forfeiture. The
complaint shall state, in addition to the information required in
subsection (e) of this Code section, the date and place of seizure.
(g) After the complaint is filed or the seizure effected, whichever
is later, every person known to have or claim an interest in the
property shall be served, if not previously served, with a copy of
the complaint and a notice of seizure in the manner provided by
Chapter 11 of Title 9, the "Georgia Civil Practice Act." Service by
publication may be ordered upon any party whose whereabouts cannot
(h)(1) Any person claiming an interest in the property may become
a party to the action at any time prior to judgment whether named
in the complaint or not. Any party claiming a substantial interest
in the property may upon motion be allowed by the court to take
possession of the property upon posting bond with good and
sufficient security in double the amount of the property's value
conditioned to pay the value of any interest in the property found
to be subject to forfeiture or the value of any interest of
another not subject to forfeiture. Such a party taking possession
shall not remove the property from the territorial jurisdiction of
the court without written permission from the court.
(2) The court may, upon such terms and conditions as prescribed by
it, order that the property be sold by an innocent party who holds
a lien on or security interest in the property at any time during
the proceedings. Any proceeds from such sale over and above the
amount necessary to satisfy the lien or security interest shall be
paid into court pending final judgment in the forfeiture
proceeding. No such sale shall be ordered, however, unless the
obligation upon which the lien or security interest is based is in
(3) Pending final judgment in the forfeiture proceeding, the court
may make any other disposition of the property which is in the
interest of substantial justice.
(i) After service of process, all further proceedings shall be as
provided in Chapter 11 of Title 9, the "Georgia Civil Practice Act,"
except that any party may bring one motion to dismiss at any time
and such motion shall be heard and ruled on within ten days. Any
party may demand a jury trial.
(j) The interest of an innocent party in the property shall not be
subject to forfeiture. An innocent party is one who did not have
actual or constructive knowledge that the property was subject to
(k) Subject to the requirement of protecting the interest of all
innocent parties, the court may, after judgment of forfeiture, make
any of the following orders for disposition of the property:
(1) Destruction of contraband, the possession of which is illegal;
(2) Retention for official use by any agency of this state or any
political subdivision thereof. When such agency or political
subdivision no longer has use for such property, it shall be
disposed of by judicial sale;
(3) Transfer to the Department of Archives and History of property
useful for historical or instructional purposes;
(4) Retention of the property by any innocent party having an
interest therein, upon payment or approval of a plan for payment
into court of the value of any forfeited interest in the property.
The plan may include, in the case of an innocent party who holds a
lien on or security interest in the property, the sale of the
property by the innocent party under such terms and conditions as
may be prescribed by the court and the payment into court of any
proceeds from such sale over and above the amount necessary to
satisfy the lien or security interest;
(5) Judicial sale of the property;
(6) Transfer of the property to any innocent party having an
interest therein equal to or greater than the value of the
(7) Any other disposition of the property which is in the interest
of substantial justice and adequately protects innocent parties.
(l) The net proceeds of any sale or disposition after satisfaction
of the interest of any innocent party, less the greater of one-half
thereof or the costs borne by the county in bringing the forfeiture
action, shall be paid into the general fund of the state treasury.
The costs borne by the county or one-half of the net proceeds of
sale or disposition, whichever is greater, shall be paid into the
treasury of the county where the forfeiture action is brought.
Notwithstanding any other provision in this Code section, the court
may, after satisfaction of the interest of any innocent party, make
any other division of the proceeds among the state, county, or
municipalities or agencies of the state, county, or municipalities,
which is commensurate with the proportion of the assistance that
each contributed to the underlying criminal action, forfeiture, or
criminal action and forfeiture.
(m) In lieu of the provisions of subsections (c) through (g) of this
Code section, the state may bring an in personam action for the
forfeiture of any property subject to forfeiture under subsection
(a) of this Code section.
(n)(1) Upon the entry of a final judgment of forfeiture in favor
of the state, the title of the state to the forfeited property
(A) In the case of real property or beneficial interest, relate
back to the date of filing of the RICO lien notice in the
official records of the county where the real property or
beneficial trust is located and, if no RICO lien notice is
filed, then to the date of the filing of any notice of lis
pendens under Article 9 of Chapter 14 of Title 44 in the
official records of the county where the real property or
beneficial interest is located and, if no RICO lien notice or
notice of lis pendens is so filed, then to the date of recording
of the final judgment of forfeiture in the official records of
the county where the real property or beneficial interest is
(B) In the case of personal property, relate back to the date
the personal property was seized by the investigating agency.
(2) If property subject to forfeiture is conveyed, alienated,
disposed of, or otherwise rendered unavailable for forfeiture
after the filing of a RICO lien notice or after the filing of a
civil proceeding or criminal proceeding, whichever is earlier, the
investigative agency may, on behalf of the state, institute an
action in the appropriate superior court against the person named
in the RICO lien notice or the defendant in the civil proceeding
or criminal proceeding; and the court shall enter final judgment
against the person named in the RICO lien notice or the defendant
in the civil proceeding or criminal proceeding in an amount equal
to the fair market value of the property, together with
investigative costs and attorney's fees incurred by the
investigative agency in the action. If a civil proceeding is
pending, such action shall be filed only in the court where such
civil proceeding is pending.