The state of California uses Penal Code 523 to prosecute the charge of extortion by means of a threatening letter. Extortion is a serious white-collar crime. In fact, PC 523 represents a felony charge here in California.
Individuals convicted under Penal Code 523 can end up facing prison time and fines. However, there are legal defenses available to you for fighting back against PC 523 charges. Get more information about extortion through a threatening letter with the Simmrin Law Group.
Understanding the Charge of Extortion by Means of a Threatening Letter
All acts of extortion are illegal in California. Note that California uses a specific definition for extortion, which is found in Penal Code 518. Extortion involves attempting to get someone to do something by threatening to:
- Injure them, their property, or someone else
- Accuse them of a crime
- Tell other people a secret about them
PC 523 charges only apply if someone commits extortion with the use of a threatening letter. Individuals can write threatening letters on paper. Other forms of writing could also lead to PC 523 charges. For example, writing a threatening email could result in a PC 523 conviction.
Additionally, PC 523 charges apply even if the intended victim refuses to give in to the threats. Sending a letter with the intent to extort someone is enough to result in a PC 523 conviction.
Similar Charges to PC 523
There are several other extortion charges used in California. In addition to PC 518, California’s basic charge for extortion, the court also uses other more specific charges, including:
- California Penal Code Section 522: Extortion of a Signature
- California Penal Code Section 524: Attempted Extortion in California
- California Penal Code Section 526: Extortion by a Fake Court Order
Extortion is one example of a white-collar crime prosecuted in California. Other white-collar crimes handled by the California court system include embezzlement and fraud. A white-collar crime lawyer in Los Angeles can help you learn more about how to defend yourself against these charges today.
Penalties Under PC 523
The court system in California prosecutes PC 523 as a felony. Individuals convicted of extortion by means of a threatening letter can end up facing:
- Fines of up to $10,000
- Incarceration of up to four years
- Formal probation
Some judges offer probation after a PC 523 conviction. Individuals are allowed to remain free if they are on probation. However, the judge will hand down a set of regulations that the individual must follow to remain out of jail.
Individuals who don’t obey the rules of the court are violating their probation. A probation violation is a criminal act in California. A criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles can help you learn more about probation violations.
Does a Conviction Under PC 523 Affect Gun Rights?
California Penal Code 523 is always charged as a felony. This means that if you are convicted, you will lose your gun rights. All convicted felons are forbidden from owning or possessing a firearm in California.
This firearms ban for those convicted of a felony is a lifetime ban, and unless you receive a pardon from the governor, you will not be able to restore these rights.
Defenses Against a PC 523 Charge
There are several defenses available to those accused of a PC 523 violation. The defense you can use depends on the charge(s) you face. A lawyer at the Simmrin Law Group can review the specifics of your case and work to show that:
- You did not send a letter
- You did not make a threat
- Your rights were violated by the police
You Did Not Send a Letter
PC 523 charges deal specifically with extortion through a threatening letter. This means that you should not face PC 523 accusations if you never sent a letter to the alleged victim. However, you could still face extortion charges, depending on the facts of the situation.
You Did Not Make a Threat
Extortion involves threatening someone else to force them to complete a task. If you did not make a threat, you may be able to avoid an extortion conviction. Speak to a lawyer if you were falsely accused of threatening someone in Los Angeles.
Your Rights Were Violated by the Police
Law enforcement focuses on investigating PC 523 charges in Los Angeles. Sometimes, these individuals overstep their legal duties. For example, a police officer could try to coerce you into making a confession. In this case, a lawyer could work to block that forced confession from evidence. This could help you avoid a conviction.
Can a Conviction Under PC 523 Be Expunged?
If you serve any time in prison as a result of your conviction, you will not be eligible to have the charge expunged from your record. However, if the charge results in jail time or probation, expungement may be possible.
If you hope to get a conviction expunged from your record, you will have the highest chance for success by hiring a lawyer to petition the court for expungement on your behalf. Qualified attorneys know how to handle the expungement process and will increase the odds of the court granting your request.
Work With a Lawyer Today to Fight PC 523 Charges
Extortion by means of a threatening letter is a serious criminal charge in California. Contact the Simmrin Law Group if you have been charged under Penal Code 523. We’re ready to begin working on your defense today. We’ll provide you with straightforward answers to your legal questions and help you develop your case. Get started with a free consultation.
Contacting us is simple. Just call us or fill out our online contact form. We’re here to help. A member of our team will review the details of your case and answer all of your questions. We will explain your legal options and advise you of what course of action would likely be best for your situation.