Extortion Attorney in Los Angeles, CA
If you or someone you know is accused of threatening to obtain money or property from another, they may be facing extortion charges-both state and federal. Extortion is a serious crime that comes with a potential state prison sentence. Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners have successfully defended numerous individuals charged with extortion.
Call us for a free consultation to discuss the facts of your case and see what action can be taken to defend against charges of extortion. Extortion is not a criminal offense that can be taken lightly. Even if you are merely suspected of extortion, you should consult a criminal attorney in Los Angeles prior to speaking to anyone from law enforcement.
What is extortion?
In California, extortion (Penal Code 518), commonly known as "blackmail," is the act of obtaining of money or property from another by threats (oral or written) of future harm.
Some of these threats can include:
- Threats of bodily harm to the person or property of the victim or another person
- Threats to accuse the victim or any family member of any crime
- Threats to expose harmful or embarrassing information related to the victim
- Threats to expose any secret affecting the victim of his or her family
One of the most common forms of extortion occurs when a person (the perpetrator) threatens to tell the victim's wife that the victim is carrying on a sexual affair with another woman unless a demand is met. Extortion also covers offenses committed by public officials who illegally obtain money or property under the color of office.
An example of extortion can include: a restaurant owner has previously been cited for several health code violations. The health inspector induces payment from the restaurant owner in exchange for providing a clean bill of health. The owner, although consenting to payment, is not doing so voluntarily but is yielding to official authority.
Extortion and Related Crimes
The crime of extortion should not be confused with the crimes of robbery, bribery, or
corruption. The main difference between robbery and extortion is that extortion involves the threat of future violence, while robbery involves the threat of present violence. In robbery, the property is taken against the victim's will, while in extortion, the property is obtained with the consent (coerced and unwilling) of the victim.
Similarly, bribery is the crime of giving money or something of value to influence the conduct of a person in a position of trust (such as a public official). Accepting a bribe also constitutes a crime. A bribe is defined in the law as anything of value or advantage. Both giving and accepting a bribe are prosecuted as felonies in California.
Sentencing and Punishment
In California, extortion is punishable by two to four years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000 or more. Extortion committed under color of official right is a misdemeanor punishable by no more than one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. Attempted extortion can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or felony (wobbler) and is punishable by up to one year in the county jail or 16 months to three years in state prison.
Extortion can also be prosecuted as a federal offense under the Hobbs Act. Extortion involving demands made by individuals, as well as government officials through the use of telephones, U.S. mail, the internet, or any instrumentality of interstate commerce would fall under the Hobbs Act and is prosecuted accordingly. The punishment for federal extortion is a maximum of twenty years in federal prison.
Are you a victim of extortion?
As criminal defense lawyers, we represent and defend those accused of extortion. As a general rule, we do not represent victims of extortion, but there may be a way we can assist you. Generally, if you are being extorted, you have two options:
- Contact a defense attorney. They can conduct a thorough investigation and may be able to prevent any embarrassing facts from going public. They can also send a “cease and desist” letter to the perpetrator and put you in touch with law enforcement. This may ultimately obtain the desired result, which is that the threats will stop.
- File a report with the police. This works some of the time but most law enforcement agencies are not eager to conduct a criminal investigation unless there is a celebrity or a huge sum of money involved.
Set Up Your Free Case Evaluation Today
If you are being investigated or charged with the crime of extortion, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney. Our firm is experienced in defending all types of extortion crimes. Do not speak to anyone from law enforcement until you have spoken to someone in our office! We understand that these are serious charges and failure to effectively defend against these charges could result in significant prison time. Please contact a Los Angeles criminal lawyer for a free consultation. We will discuss the facts surrounding your case and give you straight forward answers to your questions.
If you have been involved in an extortion charge, contact our office today to discuss your legal options. Your initial consultation is free!