Criminal Defense Attorneys Representing People Accused of Extortion Or Blackmail
Extortion criminal charges are covered under California Penal Code Section 518. Extortion is a white collar crime commonly known as blackmail.
Extortion charges can be filed as either a California state or federal crime offense.
It basic definition is:
- using force threats to;
- make another individual give money, or;
- property that does not belong to them.
Extortion charges can also apply when an individual uses force or threats to compel a government official to perform a specific act.
It also applies to government officials who might threaten to provide or without service unless another individual provides money or property.
The legal definition of extortion can be broad and cover a wide variety of activity, making it possible for an individual to commit extortion without having intent to commit a crime.
Other forms of extortion criminal charges include:
- attempted extortion (California Penal Code 524),
- extortion by threatening letter (California Penal Code 532) and;
- extortion by signature (California Penal Code 522).
Example of extortion
A common example of an extortion case in Los Angeles County includes a scenario where an individual threatens to report a crime to police unless they receive some type of compensation, such as money or property.
See related information: Bribery of a Witness Laws in California.
If you have been accused of extortion, you should immediately contact a Los Angeles extortion attorney at out law firm to closely examine the specific details of your case and start developing a solid strategy for your defense.
You should never answer any questions or make statements to police detectives as anything you say will be used against you in court.
Remain silent and contact our Los Angeles criminal defense law firm.
Extortion – CA Penal Code 518 – Elements of the Crime
In order for a Los Angeles County prosecutor to obtain a conviction for extortion, they must prove beyond any reasonable doubt the following elements of the crime:
- Defendant threatened to injure the victim, another individual, or property. Accuse the victim or a member of their family of a crime. Disclose a secret that involves the victim or a member of their family unless they receive money or property.
- Defendant had specific intent to force the victim into giving money or property when they threatened to use force or fear, or perform an official act.
- Due to threats by the defendant, the victim gave consent to give them money or property or perform an official act.
- Victim gave defendant money or property or performed the official act.
A defendant can still be convicted of extortion even if they don't injure or use force against the victim. Just the threat itself could be sufficient for a conviction.
A secret is defined as information that is not known to the general public that could harm the victim's reputation to a degree where they are willing to give money or property to prevent the information from being exposed.
Under extortion laws, an official act is something a government official would do in their official capacity.
In an extortion case where the victim does not actually give money, property, or perform an official act, they could still be convicted of attempted extortion.
Speak with a Los Angeles extortion lawyer at our law firm for more information about how the elements of the crime apply in your case.
Legal Penalties for an Extortion Conviction
Extortion or blackmail is a felony offense. If a defendant is convicted of extortion in Los Angeles County, they could receive:
- up to four years in a California state prison,
- a fine up to $10,000, and,
- felony probation.
If the defendant is convicted of extortion involving a victim who has mental or physical impairments, the court will typically consider this as aggravating factors during sentencing.
An extortion conviction can be counted as a “strike” under California's three strikes law if the offense involved gang activity.
Attempted extortion can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony crime by the Los Angeles County prosecutor. If convicted of a misdemeanor extortion case, the legal penalties can include:
- up to one year in an LA County jail,
- a fine of up to $1,000, and
- summary probation.
If convicted of a felony attempted extortion case, the legal penalties can include up to three years in a California state prison, a fine up to $10,000, and formal probation.
Legal Defenses against Extortion Charges
Available legal defenses against extortion criminal charges that may be used by an experienced Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer depends on the specific facts and evidence in the case. They include:
- Defendant did not coerce alleged victim into giving them money or property. It may be possible to prove there was another reason why the victim gave consent, thus proving the defendant did not commit an extortion offense.
- Defendant was falsely accused. It might be possible to prove the alleged victim was motivated by revenge, jealously, or anger. For example, it's not uncommon for false allegations to be made during a highly contested divorce proceeding involving child custody issues.
- Insufficient evidence to obtain an extortion conviction. It may be possible to prove the Los Angeles County prosecutor does not possess sufficient evidence to support an extortion case. We could possibly show the victim's allegations and testimony are not reliable and it was a simple misunderstanding.
Call a Los Angeles Extortion Defense Attorney
If you are facing extortion accusations, a conviction could lead to harsh legal consequences. A Los Angeles extortion lawyer at our law firm is prepared to start building a strong legal defense on your behalf.
Our attorneys have a tremendous track record of success defending our client's against any type of white collar crime.
For example, in Downey Juvenile Court, our client was charged and detained in custody for a felony case of attempted extortion.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers were able to have the felony charge dismissed after we negotiated a plea bargain to a misdemeanor offense.
Our client received information probation with the agreement they would not have a conviction on their record with successful completion of probation.
The entire record of the case would then be sealed.
Immediate help is available by contacting our law firm for a free immediate response at 877-781-1570.