What is Extortion?
Extortion is the act of obtaining money or other valued goods from a person by making threats to the individual, his family, his reputation, finances, or property. It is a crime that forces someone to act against his will. Extortion does not need to involve actual injury to the victim to be considered an illegal act.
While laws concerning extortion vary by jurisdiction, some elements of the crime remain the same. The wrongdoer must intentionally and maliciously make written or verbal threats to the intended victim. The perpetrator does not actually have to receive whatever he is asking for because the threat alone is considered the crime.
There are degrees of extortion:
- First Degree – occurs when the perpetrator makes threats of physical harm or confinement (i.e. kidnapping) to a person
- Second Degree –to threaten to falsely accuse another person of committing a crime or threatening to expose a personal secret.
In most states extortion is punished as a felony depending on the seriousness of the threat. Prison sentences for conviction can be from two (2) to four (4) years in prison. However, if any form of interstate communication is used, like the U.S. mail, a telephone, or computer, to convey a threat, the crime is automatically considered a federal offense and a prison sentence of up to twenty (20) years can be imposed.
In some instances, extortion cases can be pled down to misdemeanors but this does not happen often. The penalties for the misdemeanor charge of extortion might include fines, paying restitution, community service, probation and/or incarceration in the local jail for less than one year. It is not uncommon for an individual convicted of extortion to be charged with any combination of these penalties.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with extortion you should contact Haley Law Firm, LLC to schedule a free consultation today. We can be your advocate in court and help you to attain the best result attainable under the law for your case.