Extortion is a type of blackmail and can be charged under California Penal Code Section 518. With the poor economy and increased fraud, white collar cases have become more common. There are many types of white collar crimes in Los Angeles, but extortion cases have become one of the more frequent offenses. These charges can be brought either in Federal court or at the State level. Extortion is a federal crime and can take many forms, as described by California law. Using threats or violence to get money or property from another person is an example of extortion. It is also a crime to use the same methods to compel a public officer corruptly perform an official act. Extortion includes the crime of using apparent authority to force another person to give up something he or she owns, such as property.
The four main factors that define a case of extortion are:
- Property damage
- Use of violence
- Harming another’s reputation
- Behaviors deemed to be unfavorable per the government’s standards
EXTORTION VS BLACKMAIL
The term blackmail is often used to refer to extortion. Although both are used to refer to the same act, there can be slight differences in how each is applied. Extortion is usually a felony, and perpetrators are often sentenced to prison time and large fines. If you have been charged with a crime, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to provide legal counsel and advocate on your behalf.
Blackmail is the use of threats to make someone reveal information (whether true or false), especially about a public official, family member, work associate—or anyone else. To be considered blackmail, a threat must involve physical harm, property damage or social humiliation. While extortion and blackmail are often treated as synonyms, they differ in the nature of their behaviors. Typically, threats are only considered blackmail if they have been formally written down or recorded.
Extortion can be used to threaten future harm without needing to write down these threats; extortion is defined as making a threat in order to prevent someone else from engaging in certain lawful behaviors. For the prosecution to prove its case, it must show that you attempted to obtain property or an official act from another person by using wrongful force (a form of intimidation) or fear.
- Is it extortion when you aggressively pursue someone for money or property that they owe you?
- What about situations in which there is more than one owner (of a home, for example)?
- What types of behavior by public officials are offensive?
Extortion cases are complicated, and many people find themselves in legal trouble as a result of misunderstandings or mistakes. We’ll go into the specifics a little later on, but in short: if you or someone close to you has been accused of extortion and wants legal advice, we suggest speaking with an While Collar Crime attorney as soon as possible. The best attorney will engage you in a discussion about the facts of your case; explore options with you and help formulate a defense strategy. Extortion or blackmail is a felony offense. If convicted of extortion in Los Angeles County, a defendant could face:
- 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 against a victim who has physical or mental disabilities, the court will typically consider it as an aggravating factor at sentencing. An extortion conviction can be counted as a “strike” under California’s three strikes law if the offense was motivated or carried out by gang members. The Los Angeles County prosecutor may charge attempted extortion as either a misdemeanor or felony.
If convicted of misdemeanor extortion, a person may face the following penalties:
- up to one year in an LA County jail,
- a fine of up to $1,000, and
- summary probation.
A person convicted of attempted extortion in California can be sentenced to three years in prison, fined up to $10,000 and placed on formal probation.
There are additional extortion-related criminal offenses, including:
- attempted extortion (California Penal Code 524),
- extortion by threatening letter (California Penal Code 532) and;
- extortion by signature (California Penal Code 522).
LEGAL DEFENSES AGAINST EXTORTION CHARGES
An experienced Los Angeles extortion defense lawyer may use several different legal defenses on your behalf, depending on the facts of the case. These include:
- The defendant did not force the alleged victim to give money or property. The defense may be able to prove that the victim gave consent for another reason, thus negating the defendant’s extortion.
- Defendant has been falsely accused; it might be possible to prove the alleged victim’s ulterior motive—revenge, jealousy, anger. For example; in a divorce proceeding that involves child custody issues, it’s not uncommon for false allegations to be made.
- There is not enough evidence to prosecute the case. The Los Angeles County prosecutor may not have enough evidence to prove that the suspect engaged in extortion.
We can argue that the victim has presented unreliable evidence and testimony, painting a false picture of what happened.
CALL A LOS ANGELES EXTORTION DEFENSE ATTORNEY
If you are convicted of extortion, the consequences can be severe. Our Los Angeles extortion lawyer is ready to fight for you. We have a strong track record of successfully defending clients against any type of white collar crime. Your rights and freedoms are important to us and we will do all we can to protect both you and your future in the wake of an accusation of extortion. Extortion defense attorney Cyrus Tabibnia has been serving the Los Angeles area for a long time and he is ready to take your case. Call today for your free case evaluation – 866-713-2159
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