Extorting money or property through threats is a serious crime in California. And CA Penal Code 524 details the penalties for extortion attempts. Even if you are unsuccessful in your attempt at extortion, you can still face serious consequences, including a prison sentence.
If you have been charged with a crime, it is crucial that you obtain experienced legal representation. A criminal defense lawyer in California can help you fight back against an attempted extortion charge. There are many potential defenses that you can use.
How Penal Code 524 Defines Attempted Extortion
Under California law, attempted extortion occurs when a person tries to acquire money or property from another person through the use of a threat. In this situation, a threat can be of direct harm to the person or harm to a third party, such as a family member.
A critical element of this crime is intent. The accused must have acted with the intent to commit extortion in order to be guilty of this crime. If there was no intent to extort money or property, but threats were made against another person, they may be guilty of another crime, like assault.
If a person attempts to commit extortion and is successful in doing so, they will not be charged under PC 524: Attempted Extortion in California. Instead, they will be charged under Penal Code Section 518.
Penalties for an Attempted Extortion Conviction
In California, attempted extortion is treated as a wobbler offense. That means that if you get charged with a violation of Penal Code 524, you could be facing a misdemeanor or a felony charge. Ultimately, it is up to the prosecutor to decide how to charge you. However, your criminal history and the specifics of the offense will likely weigh heavily in this decision.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor for attempted assault, a conviction could mean:
- Up to one year in jail
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Summary probation
The consequences for a felony charge can be far more severe, with potential penalties of:
- Up to three years in prison
- A fine of up to $10,000
- Formal probation
Defenses Against an Attempted Extortion Charge
There are many potential defenses that can be used when fighting an attempted extortion charge in California. Your attorney will review the facts of your case before deciding which defense is best suited for your situation.
Some of the arguments most commonly used in attempted extortion cases include:
- No threat
- False accusation
- No intent
One of the key elements of a PC 524 offense is the use of threats. If your lawyer can show that no threats were made, you should be able to avoid a conviction.
False accusations occur more often than you would likely imagine. Sometimes, people are falsely accused due to confusion on the part of the witness. Other times, the supposed witness intentionally accuses another person of a crime with malicious intent.
There are many things that can lead to an accidental false accusation. Maybe the accused and the perpetrator look alike. Alternatively, the accused may have been present at the time of the crime, and the witness saw their face and got confused.
Unfortunately, people far too often decide that falsely accusing someone they dislike of committing a crime is a good means of revenge. Intentionally false accusations are a crime. If your accuser knowingly misled law enforcement into believing you were guilty of attempted extortion, they may face criminal charges.
If you did not intend to commit extortion, you should not be found guilty under PC 524. If you threatened someone but did not do so to obtain money or property from them, you may still face criminal charges. However, those charges will not be for attempted extortion. Alternatively, the whole situation may have been a big misunderstanding, with no intent to commit any crime.
Can a Conviction Under PC 524 Be Expunged?
It is possible to get a Penal Code 524 conviction expunged in many cases. To be eligible to expunge your conviction, you must first complete any jail or probation sentence. If you serve any time in state or federal prison for the offense, your conviction will not be eligible for expungement.
Getting a charge expunged is a great way to clean the slate after serving your sentence and move forward with your life. Removing a charge from your record can be particularly helpful if you are looking for employment or housing.
Find a California Criminal Defense Lawyer
Finding a criminal defense lawyer in California you feel comfortable with is crucial when facing criminal charges. You want an experienced lawyer you can trust who you feel has your best interests at heart.
At the Simmrin Law Group, we have helped defend many clients against attempted extortion charges. We know how the courts handle this charge and have a history of getting positive results for our clients.
Give us a call or fill out our online contact form today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation. We are standing by, ready to answer any questions you may have and advise you of all your legal options.