Extortion is a criminal offence whereby an individual obtains money, goods and services, or desired behavior from another by wrongfully threatening or inflicting harm to his person, property, or reputation. Extortion is a different criminal offense than robbery, whereby an offender steals property through force. Instead, the property gained though extortion is handed over to avoid threatened force or other harm. Extortion involves the victim's consent, but the way in which it is gained is unlawful, and therefore the entire act is considered a crime.
Extortion is often considered a white collar crime because it is committed in a business or other professional setting. Public officials may be coerced into committing an official act because of extortion. Business professionals may behave in a certain way against their will because of extortion. In these cases, the victim is committing such acts as a direct result of fear or force. A government official may commit extortion by demanding, in his official capacity, any property or money not legally owed to him. A law enforcement officer commits extortion when s/he makes a corrupt arrest and demands money or property under the pretense of official duty. These latter two examples are cases of extortion involving the abuse of authority of office.
Blackmail is a common method of extortion. Blackmail is extortion by threatening another person's or organization's reputation with the disclosure of information that would be damaging to that party if released. This incriminating information may be true or false. The actual disclosure of this information does not have to be criminal, nor does the offender have to actually receive money, property, or other benefits for the act to be considered extortion. The act is extortion because the individual demands money, property, or other considerations in exchange for non-disclosure of this information.
Ransom is another type of extortion. Ransom is extortion whereby the offender demands money, property, or other conditions for the release of a captive. Random is also an exchange or buy back that is done under threat. Individuals may be kidnapped for the purpose of receiving a ransom for their release. Kidnapping and extortion are often committed to gain trade secrets, make political or social comments, or for financial gain.
Bribery is another type of extortion. Bribery is extortion that involves offering something of value to a person in a position of trust, who in return violates his or her duty or the law in order to benefit the giver. To be considered extortion, bribery must be done under fear or force.
When a person is charged with extortion it is often considered a felony crime punishable by incarceration, heavy fines, and more. The federal government and all fifty states have laws regarding extortion. The penalty for extortion will depend on the nature of the offence and the jurisdiction where the case is heard. If you would like to learn more about extortion, please contact us to speak with a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case to determine your legal rights and options.
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