A closer look at state laws examined by Fulton DA in Trump probe

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis says all 28 defendants in a sweeping gang case should be tried together. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Fulton County, Georgia, District Attorney Fani Willis says all 28 defendants in a sweeping gang case should be tried together. (Natrice Miller/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution/TNS)

When Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced she was investigating potential criminal interference in Georgia’s 2020 elections, she laid out a half-dozen state laws that might have been broken.

They include:

Criminal solicitation to commit election fraud

Georgia statute outlines that a person commits solicitation when, “with intent that another person engage in conduct” that constitutes a felony or a misdemeanor, “he or she solicits, requests, commands, importunes, or otherwise attempts to cause the other person to engage in such conduct.”

A person convicted of first-degree solicitation faces one to three years of prison time. A second-degree solicitation conviction is considered a misdemeanor, which carries a fine of up to $1,000 or less than 12 months jail time.

Making of false statements to state and local governmental bodies

State law defines this as a person who “knowingly and willfully falsifies, conceals, or covers up by any trick, scheme, or device a material fact” to any state or county government agency.

The penalty if a person is convicted is a fine of up to $1,000 or one to five years in prison.


Under state statute, conspiracy occurs when a person, together with one or more others, conspires to commit any crime and anyone carries out “any overt act to effect the object of the conspiracy.” Georgia law also has separate charge for conspiracy to commit election fraud.

Felony conspiracy carries a sentence of at least one year imprisonment and up to half “the maximum period of time for which he could have been sentenced if he had been convicted of the crime conspired to have been committed.” There are also misdemeanor penalties.


Georgia’s version of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, known as RICO, makes it illegal for “any person, through a pattern of racketeering activity or proceeds derived therefrom, to acquire or maintain, directly or indirectly, any interest in or control of any enterprise, real property, or personal property of any nature, including money.” The statute lists more than 40 so-called predicate crimes or acts that together could qualify as a pattern of racketeering activity, including theft, witness tampering and perjury.

Penalties for felony RICO include five to 20 years imprisonment and fines of up to $25,000 or three times the value of money, property or commercial interest a person made through their racketeering activity.

Violation of oath of office

Public officers in Georgia take an oath to support the state and federal constitutions. Georgia law outlines that any public officer can’t “willfully and intentionally” violate the terms of their oath.

If convicted, a public official could face one to five years in prison.

Involvement in violence or threats related to election administration

Georgia law makes it a felony for any person to use or threaten violence in a manner that would prevent or “materially interfere” with the ability of poll officers to execute their duties. Ditto for using or threatening violence to “prevent a reasonable elector from voting” or willfully tampering with “any electors list, voter’s certificate, numbered list of voters, ballot box, voting machine, direct recording electronic equipment, or tabulating machine.”

Penalties for such crimes include one to 10 years in prison or fines of up to $100,000.