Attempted Extortion in California – Penal Code 524 PC
It's a crime to extort somebody or even attempt to do so under California laws. Under Penal Code 518, extortion is described as using a threat of force against another person to give them money or property.
Thus, attempted extortion is an incomplete act of extortion. In other words, even though the person was unsuccessful in obtaining money or property by using a threat, it's still criminal to attempt it under California Penal Code 524 PC.
This statute makes it a crime to attempt to extort property or money from another person through threats. They would probably be charged with PC 518 extortion if they could acquire the property or money.
Penal Code 524 attempted extortion is “any person that attempts by any threat under Penal Code 519 to extort property or other consideration from somebody. It's punishable by county jail or state prison time for up to one year and a fine of up to $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.”
To be convicted of attempted extortion, the prosecutor has to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the alleged perpetrator attempted to extort money or property from another person and used a threat in trying. In this article by our California criminal defense lawyers, we will look closely at the law below.
What Are Some Examples?
Readers should note that the intent to commit extortion is insufficient for an attempted charge. Also, making the arrangements needed to commit the crime is not enough. Put simply, there must be some direct step to accomplish the crime.
There is no requirement that the victim sustains fear if the threat is of a nature that could have reasonably caused it. The perpetrator could be guilty of making threats, whether directed at the victim or against another person. Some common examples of Penal Code 524 PC attempted extortion are:
- Someone who threatens to expose cheating on their spouse unless they are paid a certain amount of money;
- Someone who threatens to hurt another person's family member if they don't receive a specific amount of money;
- Making threats to reveal an embarrassing secret about someone unless they are adequately compensated, but the target person refuses to pay.
What are the Penalties for PC 524?
PC 524 attempted extortion is a “wobbler” that can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the details of the case. If you are convicted of a misdemeanor, then a conviction can carry:
- up to one year in the county jail,
- a fine of up to $10,000,
- summary probation.
If an act of attempted extortion is charged as a felony, a conviction can carry:
- up to three years in California state prison,
- a fine up to $10,000,
- formal felony probation,
The judge can grant probation rather than jail time for a misdemeanor or felony conviction of attempted extortion.
What Are the Related Crimes?
In California, numerous offenses related to Penal Code 524 attempted extortion, such as extortion, by court order, or attempted crimes. Let's take a look below.
Penal Code 518 PC – extortion prohibits different types of blackmail. It's charged when somebody threatens another person and compels them to hand over money or property by using a threat, then the individual who made the threat is guilty of extortion.
Penal Code 526 PC – extortion by fake court order prohibits somebody from using a fake court order to threaten another person or compel them to give them money or property due to threats of the fake court order. If someone makes the threat but doesn't receive what they seek, they could still be found guilty of attempted extortion by fake court order.
Penal Code 664 PC – attempted crimes prohibits the attempt of any criminal act. Put simply, if someone tries to commit a crime but is unsuccessful in completing it, their attempt could be considered a criminal charge with penalties. There are other forms of theft-related crimes for attempted extortion, such as:
- Penal Code 422 PC - criminal threats,
- Penal Code 487 PC – grand theft,
- Penal Code 484(a) – petty theft,
- Penal Code 496(a) – receiving stolen property.
What Are the Legal Defenses for This Offense?
If somebody is facing a Penal Code 524 attempted extortion charge, numerous legal defenses can be used based on the circumstances, such as the following:
- there were no threats made against the alleged victim;
- false accusation and wrongful arrest,
- entrapment by law enforcement detectives.
A police entrapment argument means a defendant only attempted to commit the alleged crime because they were persuaded to by law enforcement. In other words, they were convinced to commit a crime they would have otherwise not committed, but we would have to show precisely how entrapment occurred to be successful.
Recall from above that you can only be found guilty of violating Penal Code 524 if you attempted to extort money from someone using threats. Perhaps we could make a reasonable argument that you didn't threaten anyone.
In an attempted extortion case, there are situations where the defendant was falsely accused by someone motivated by anger, jealousy, or revenge.
Perhaps we can show the prosecutor there is insufficient evidence to make a case beyond a reasonable doubt. Put simply, they won't be able to convict you. Every case is unique, and you must consult a criminal lawyer to review all the potential legal defenses.
Perhaps negotiation with the prosecution for reduced charges or a case dismissal would be possible. Likewise, through early prefiling negotiations with the filing deputy lawyer and law enforcement, we could persuade them not to file formal criminal charges against you in the first place, known in the legal industry as a “DA reject.”
The criminal defense law firm of Eisner Gorin LLP is located in Los Angeles, California. Contact our firm for an initial case review by calling (310) 328-3776 or using the contact form.