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“Give me what you owe me and no one gets hurt,”…
These are the kinds of words you’d hear uttered by brooding mobsters coming for their collections. The meek shopkeeper can do nothing but take from the till and pay up.
We’ve all felt peer pressure, but extortion takes it over the line.
Threatening violence to get what you want is — surprise, surprise — an illegal activity. Those who do this may not always realize it, but there are consequences to breaking federal law.
What if you’re on the receiving end of extortion? What can you do to fight back? Is there protection if you go after someone who may have criminal connections?
The information on this page provides a complete overview of extortion. It also shares how a criminal defense attorney can help with your case.
What Is Extortion?
Extortion involves an individual coercing another for:
It may also involve the pressure to force someone to do something he or she might not otherwise do.
Extortion skirts a fine line with robbery or debt collector harassment in that there is no imminent threat to the extorted individual. Yes, there is still a physical danger, but because it’s verbal, the law places extortion under a different classification.
Extortion may not include violence — yet there still may be a threat.
Imagine an intimidating individual frequently visiting your establishment. The uneasiness builds into a fear of violence. You may plead with the individual to go away by giving money, but this, in turn, may have the person coming back again and again for more payments.
There is also some debate on the distinction between bribery and extortion. Strong-arming someone to not take money or act against his or her will is, indeed, extortion. This is the “you’ll keep your mouth shut” type of threat we see in the movies.
Examples of Extortion
Extortion isn’t so clear-cut as one would think.
There are easy-to-notice examples of extortion. Then, there are acts of extortion that would seem more aligned with manipulation or bullying.
- Blackmail — Involves threatening someone with something that may cause harm to his or her reputation or image. Threatening to leak documents unless paid is one of the common forms of blackmail.
- Ransomware — This is a type of malware that prevents users from accessing their computer systems. The extortion could involve system destruction through a program or a “tech” extracts money from the individual to “fix” the issue.
- Protection — This is a classic mob-like racket of looking after a business in exchange for dues. However, the protection is often from the very same associates of the malicious individual.
Government individuals may also use extortion to show power over locals. When this happens, the trouble runs deep as there may be an underlying organization pulling strings.
Extortion Charges and Classifications
Extortion is typically a felony charge, though it may end up a misdemeanor.
The degrees of extortion are different for every state (i.e., 1st and 2nd-degree).
Punishment for extortion can include:
- Fines and restitution
It’s very common that individuals charged with extortion will see most of these applied to their case. Those accused may have to pay back the individual. They may serve a few years but could see longer depending on the severity of their threats and the extent of how aggressive their behavior. Probation may replace incarceration or follow it.
A Catch 22
Some may find it difficult to report extortion:
- Scenario #1: the person may have to deal with a group of tough individuals. The repercussions for exposing the extortion may do more harm than monetary loss.
- Scenario #2: extortion is verbal and may be difficult to prove. Outside of recordings, individuals could simply state they’re having a heated argument, which makes for a tough case.
One can see how extortion can happen for many years when the victim does not report the crime. It’s a Catch 22 of not wanting to see the threat realized but also wanting it removed.
The burden of proof lies with the victim of the crime. This can become a difficult experience to process if the extorted person feels threatened.
Individuals may slip up and write down their threats. They may boast about it to others (those willing to come to your defense).
These are some challenges you’ll need to overcome when proving extortion:
- Proving intent that an individual was threatening and not merely having a heated argument
- Showing admissible evidence or items obtained by the authorities
- Detailing the account and the duress you experienced during the crime
Do understand that some heated arguments may not fall under extortion. An example may include a major fall-out and disagreement with a business partner who may want his or her investment back.
There are situations where there may be misunderstandings with an individual, too. Communication barriers or mental impairment may have sent the person over-the-line but not into the territory of an actual threat.
Ultimately, you decide whether to pursue a case of extortion.
The extortion lawyers we have on our retainer will give you a better idea of where your case stands if you do decide to pursue legal action.
Seek Results-Driven Extortion Lawyers
Has an individual begun strong-arming you for money or property? Have they demanded you act against your will? If so, you likely have an extortion case!
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