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California Penal Code 524 PC - Attempted Extortion

CALIFORNIA PENAL CODE 524 PC – ATTEMPTED EXTORTION

Los Angeles Criminal Defense LawyerUnder California laws, it is considered a crime to extort or attempt to do so. Extortion, as defined in Penal Code 518, involves using threats of force to compel another person to give money or property.

Penal Code 524 PC specifically makes it a crime to attempt to extort someone through the use of threats. Therefore, attempted extortion is viewed as an incomplete act of extortion. In other words, even if the person was unsuccessful in obtaining money or property through threats, the act of attempting extortion is still considered a criminal offense under California Penal Code 524 PC.

“Penal Code Section 524: Every person who attempts, by means of any threat, such as is specified in Section 519 of this code, to extort money or other property from another is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not longer than one year or in the state prison or by fine not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000), or by both such fine and imprisonment.”

Source: https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=PEN&sectionNum=524.

ELEMENTS

In order to secure a conviction for attempted extortion in California, the prosecutor must establish the following elements of the crime:

  • The defendant attempted to extort property or money from another individual.
  • The attempt was carried out through the use of a threat.
  • The defendant acted with the intent to commit extortion.

For an act to qualify as an attempt, it must go beyond mere thoughts or preparation; a direct step must be taken, such as sending a threatening email. The threat involved could include a warning to harm either the individual directly or a third party, such as a family member.

It is not necessary for the prosecutor to demonstrate that the individual being extorted felt threatened or fearful, nor is it required to prove any wrongful use of force or acquisition of property.

If the attempt at extortion is successful in obtaining something of value, the charges brought by the prosecutor would likely be for extortion under PC 518 rather than attempted extortion under PC 524.

EXAMPLES

It is important to note that intent alone is not sufficient for an attempted charge of extortion. Merely making arrangements or having the intention to commit the crime is not enough. To be considered an attempted extortion, there must be a direct step taken towards accomplishing the crime.

Furthermore, the victim does not need to sustain fear if the nature of the threat could reasonably cause fear. The perpetrator can be guilty of making threats, whether directed at the victim or another person. Some common examples of attempted extortion under Penal Code 524 PC include:

  • Someone threatening to expose infidelity unless they receive a certain amount of money.
  • Someone threatening harm to a family member unless they are paid a specific sum of money.
  • Making threats to disclose an embarrassing secret unless the target person provides adequate compensation, even if the person refuses to pay.

PENALTIES, PUNISHMENT, AND SENTENCING

Attempted extortion is a “wobbler” offense, meaning it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the specifics of the case. If convicted of a misdemeanor, the penalties may include up to one year in county jail, a fine of up to $10,000, and summary probation. On the other hand, if charged as a felony, a conviction can result in up to three years in a California state prison, a fine of up to $10,000, and formal felony probation.

It is up to the judge to decide whether to grant probation instead of jail time for both misdemeanor and felony convictions of attempted extortion.

DEFENSES

Three compelling defenses in cases of attempted extortion are:

  • Lack of threats: A crucial element of guilt under PC 524 is attempting to extort property or money through threats. Gathering evidence such as video surveillance, eyewitness accounts, and recorded communications like emails, texts, and voicemails can help demonstrate that no threats were made, potentially leading to a dismissal of charges.
  • False accusation: If the alleged victim falsely accused you due to jealousy, anger, revenge, or misunderstanding, the defense strategy would involve revealing their motivations to lie and illustrating inconsistencies in their accusations with past statements.
  • Police entrapment: If it can be proven that the police unduly coerced you into committing attempted extortion, the defense may argue that you were not predisposed to commit the crime and rely on police body-cam footage and audio recordings to demonstrate illegal entrapment.

Following an arrest, engaging in pre-file negotiations with prosecutors can present the opportunity to demonstrate the weakness of their case, potentially leading to a “DA reject” and the decision not to press criminal charges.

IMMIGRATION CONSEQUENCES

Committing a crime, including attempted extortion, can have potential immigration consequences for non-U.S. citizens. Convictions for certain crimes may result in adverse immigration consequences, such as deportation, ineligibility for certain forms of relief, or difficulties in obtaining or maintaining lawful immigration status.

The specific immigration consequences can depend on several factors, including the nature of the offense, the individual’s immigration status, and any previous criminal history. It is advisable to consult with an experienced immigration attorney who can provide personalized guidance based on your specific circumstances. If you or someone you know is charged with this crime, it is strongly advisable that you also consult with an immigration lawyer. If you do not have or know of an immigration lawyer, the Tabibnia Law Firm can refer you to one.

CAN I GET A CONVICTION EXPUNGED?

Yes, it is possible to expunge a criminal conviction for attempted extortion if you meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility for expungement is determined by whether you have completed probation or the jail term imposed by the court.

If you were sentenced to jail time for the conviction, you may be eligible for expungement if the time you served would now be considered a county jail term under the updated guidelines of “Realignment” as per Proposition 47.

RELATED CRIMES

  • Penal Code 518 PC – Extortion
  • Penal Code 526 PC – Extortion by fake court order
  • Penal Code 664 PC – Attempted crimes
  • 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

SPEAK WITH CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER FROM TABIBNIA LAW FIRM

If you or your loved one is facing charges or being investigated for an extortion case, It is important to consult with an experienced attorney to fully understand and strategize the best defense for your specific situation. An attorney, such as Cyrus Tabibnia from Tabibnia Law Firm, can provide guidance and representation throughout the legal process.

Cyrus Tabibnia and his law firm have experience in negotiating with the prosecution for reduced charges or even a case dismissal. They may also engage in early pre-filing negotiations with law enforcement and the District Attorney to possibly prevent formal criminal charges from being filed, referred to as a “DA reject.”

Tabibnia Law is a highly regarded criminal defense law firm based in Los Angeles County, serving clients across California. You can contact Cyrus at 866-713-2159 or by filling out a contact form for an initial case consultation.

Sources: 

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia

Cyrus Tabibnia, also known as Shahrooz Tabibnia, is a criminal defense lawyer in Los Angeles, California. With a law degree from Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, he has been practicing law since 2005 and holds license #237348. With over 18 years of experience, Cyrus specializes in various misdemeanor and felony criminal Law including Domestic Violence, Theft Crime, Sex crime, DUI & DWI, Personal Injury, Employment Law, and Cannabis & Marijuana Drugs Law. Being bilingual in English, Persian, and Spanish enables him to effectively communicate with a diverse range of clients. From 2014 to 2018, he served as a board member of the Iranian American Bar Association. An expungement attorney in Los Angeles who can assist you in clearing your criminal record in the state of California.

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