Extortion happens when one person uses threats, fear, or violence to obtain property or money from another individual. Extortion is also known as blackmail.
The critical factor in proving extortion is that the alleged victim of the crime does give the money or property over to the defendant. All that is required is a threat of force, but the force does not need to be present. There are several ways to prove and defend against extortion charges.
Is Attempted Extortion Present?
Attempted extortion is a crime but can get tricky depending on where you reside. In general, attempted extortion means one person tries to use force or threats to get money or other items from another person, and the other person does not comply. You can face a felony or misdemeanor charge depending on the facts of the case and your criminal history.
The defense for attempted extortion is entrapment, false accusation, and lack of threat or use of force. For an attempted extortion charge to stick, two elements must be present. One person intended to commit a crime, and the act did not result in the intended action.
So if a person uses the threat of violence or force to get money or property from another person and is unsuccessful, that would be attempted extortion; you can face a felony or misdemeanor charge.
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What Is a White-Collar Crime?
Extortion is a white-collar crime which means it is a nonviolent offense. Additionally, it is a crime that takes place in a business setting. Most white-collar crimes are monetary. Since they are nonviolent, the general public does not see them as serious offenses, but they are.
There are steep penalties that can result. Some white-collar crimes make it to the federal level. Extortion is one example, but others include bribery, money laundering, embezzlement, and fraud.
What Must a Prosecutor Prove?
A prosecutor must prove that you made a threat to another person to secure their property or monetary gain. There must be more than a threat present to face a criminal charge.
The intent is the key to proving extortion. Additionally, the party who faced a threat will have to comply with the requests. The crime is attempted extortion when a victim does not comply with the forceful request for money.
While both crimes have similar elements, the main difference is the victim’s actions. If the victim complies with the request, it is extortion. If they do not comply, the accused will have a better defense since it is attempted extortion.
Are These Federal Crimes?
In either case, state prosecutors will work to get the federal government involved. Most white-collar crimes will face federal investigations, but not all do. When the federal government becomes involved in your case, it can be more challenging to build a defense.
The agencies that will take part in your case will vary by the charges. Federal crimes involve crimes that go into different states. If a person threatened a person in another state, the case would go into federal territory.
These circumstances are often seen in mail fraud cases, but extortion is no exception. Suppose the company you work for has various locals in different states, and a person makes a threat to a person working in another branch that is in another state. While it is within the same company, there is a possibility for federal charges since it crosses state lines.
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What Are the Penalties for Extortion?
Penalties for extortion in California will vary depending on the facts of the case. Extortion is a white-collar crime and a felony offense. If a person is convicted, they will face jail time, fines, probation, and restitution to the victim.
Felony convictions result in over one year in jail instead of misdemeanors requiring less than one year in jail. Proven extortion cases can result in four years in jail and upwards of $10,000 in fines.
Fines and jail time will vary depending on individual circumstances. The person’s prior record will be considered, along with how much was extorted from the individual and the harm the victim faced. Additionally, you will find it difficult or impossible to find employment if you have a white-collar crime conviction.
Government employment is few and far between, and a government entity is unlikely to hire someone with a white-collar crime conviction. A felony conviction will make the job hunt difficult, no matter what field you work in. Since you must inform employers of your criminal record, when you do get employment, it can make things difficult. Those in the workplace will not trust you, which can make it challenging to form relationships.
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What Defenses Are Available?
Aside from the defense for attempted extortion, there are a couple of other possible defenses. Suppressing evidence is prevalent in most criminal defense cases. When evidence is obtained illegally, the prosecutor cannot use it against a defendant.
Another possible defense is an idle threat which means there was a lack of intent on behalf of the defendant. It is a matter of hearsay. The defendant had no intention of the threat making it to the person.
Another defense is litigation privilege. While this is a particular situation since it relates to attorneys in civil litigation, it is worth mentioning. An attorney acting on your behalf can make demands and threats to help you win a case.
However, you cannot and should not because you can face a criminal charge. You will need to speak with an extortion defense lawyer to determine the best legal defense for your case.
How Can You Defend Yourself from an Extortion Charge?
Extortion is a serious crime, and you will need a skilled extortion defense lawyer in your area to build a winning case and secure your future. Your lawyer will work to get a case dismissal, reduce your sentence or negotiate for a lesser charge. It can be challenging to get an entire case dismal, but not impossible when it comes to these cases.
The outcome of an extortion case will vary by the defendant and what they are accused of. If you face an extortion charge, you must move quickly to get the proper representation. The best way to defend yourself from extortion is to hire a lawyer.