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Are you an individual that has been accused of threatening someone to receive money or property from them? You may be looking at extortion charges at both the state and federal levels. This is a serious crime that can come with a hefty sentence in a state prison. Our attorneys have the experience to defend you against a charge of extortion
Contact our attorneys for a free consultation and we will discuss the facts of your case and decide the best course of action to defend you against these charges. This is not a charge to be taken lightly and even if you are only suspected of extortion, you need to contact one of our experienced attorneys to help when speaking to someone from law enforcement.
Definition of Extortion
Under California Penal Code 518, extortion, also known as blackmail, is defined as the act of receiving money or property from someone else as a result of threats (either written or oral) with harm in the future.
These threats can include the following:
• Bodily harm to the person or their property by another person
• Accusations to the victim or their family members
• Exposure of embarrassing or harmful material connected to the victim
• Exposure of a secret that would affect the victim or anyone in their family
The most common type of extortion happens when a person threatens to tell someone’s spouse of a sexual affair they are carrying on unless their demand is met. The definition of extortion also includes an offense that was committed by public officials that illegally received money or property while in office.
Another example of extortion is a restaurant manager that has had several citations for violations of the health code. The health inspector asks for payment from the restaurant manager in order to receive a good health code rating. The manager agrees to the payment but is not doing so willing but under the threat of the public official.
Crimes Related to Extortion
Extortion should not be mistaken for the crimes of bribery, robbery and theft. The difference between them is that extortion entails the future threat of violence while robbery only involves a threat of current violence. Also, in a robbery, property is taken against someone’s will while in extortion the victim is coerced in giving the property.
Also, bribery consists of someone giving money or property to influence the decision or conduct of another person that is in position of trust like a public official. When a bribe is accepted, it is considered a crime. A bribe is considered anything of value and both giving a bribe and accepting a bribe is considered a felony in California.
Sentencing and Penalties
Extortion is punishable by a prison term of two to four years in California and a fine of up to $10,000 or more. Attempted extortion can be tried as a misdemeanor and is punishable by a year in county jail or up to three years in state prison. Also, extortion can be tried under the Hobbs Act which involves the demands being made with the use of a telephone, internet, U.S. mail or any instrument of interstate commerce. This can be punished as federal extortion with up to twenty years in federal prison.
If you find yourself accused of extortion, contact our experienced attorneys to help guide you through the trial process and help defend your good name. Our attorneys have the knowledge to defend you against these charges and help you receive the best possible outcome for your case.