Extortion Crimes

Extortion Crimes

What Are Extortion Crimes?

Extortion crimes are a criminal act in which one person or entity unlawfully obtains something from another person or entity through coercion, threats, intimidation, or manipulation. The intent of extortion is to force the victim to comply with the demands of the extortionist, typically involving the surrender of money, property, services, confidential information, or other valuables.

Extortion can take various forms, including physical intimidation, blackmail, cyber-extortion (e.g., ransomware attacks), protection racket schemes, and more. It can occur in personal relationships, businesses, organized crime activities, or even political contexts.

Extortion crimes can be charged at the state and federal levels. It is also possible to be charged at both state and federal levels for the same crime.

Some Common State Crimes Related to Extortion Include:

Extortion – This is the general term used to describe the act of obtaining money, property, services, or other valuable items through threats, intimidation, or coercion.

Blackmail – Blackmail is a specific type of extortion where the perpetrator threatens to reveal damaging, embarrassing, or incriminating information about the victim unless they comply with the demands.

Cyber Extortion – In the digital age, extortion can also occur online, where criminals use threats or hacking techniques to gain control of a victim’s personal information or computer systems, and then demand money or other concessions to avoid harm.

Official Extortion – This involves a public official, such as a government employee or law enforcement officer, using their position of power to demand money or other benefits from individuals or businesses under threat of legal action or other harm.

Protection Racketeering – This occurs when criminals offer “protection” to businesses or individuals from potential harm or violence, but in reality, they are the ones who pose a threat, and the “protection” money is essentially extortion.

Labor Union Extortion – In some cases, labor unions or union officials may engage in extortion by demanding payments or benefits from employers under the threat of labor disruptions or negative publicity.

Loan Shark Extortion – Loan sharks may use intimidation and threats of violence to force borrowers to pay back loans with exorbitant interest rates, often leading to a cycle of debt and fear.

Gang-Related Extortion – Criminal gangs may engage in extortion by demanding “protection” money from businesses or individuals in a particular territory, threatening violence if their demands are not met.

State Penalties Can Include:

Imprisonment – Extortion convictions can result in significant prison sentences, often ranging from several years to decades, depending on the severity of the offense.
Fines – Convicted individuals may be required to pay substantial fines as a form of punishment.
Restitution – The court may order the convicted individual to compensate the victim for any financial losses suffered as a result of the extortion.
Probation – In some cases, the court may impose probation instead of or in addition to imprisonment, during which the convicted person will be required to adhere to certain conditions and avoid any further criminal activity.

It’s essential to remember that each state’s laws can differ, and some states may have specific provisions and sentencing guidelines for extortion charges. Additionally, aggravating factors, such as the use of violence or the involvement of organized crime, may lead to more severe penalties.

Some Common Federal Crimes Related to Extortion Include:

Hobbs Act Violations: The Hobbs Act is a federal law that prohibits extortion under the color of official right, which means obtaining property from another person through the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear while acting under the color of official right. This typically applies to public officials or individuals acting on behalf of the government.

The Hobbs Act is a federal law that prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion that affect interstate or foreign commerce. Under the Hobbs Act, extortion means obtaining property from another person through the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear. Additionally, the Hobbs Act defines extortion as ” obtaining of property from another. . .under color of official right.” This latter definition typically applies to public officials or individuals acting on behalf of the government.

Interstate Communications in Furtherance of Extortion – If someone uses interstate communications (such as phone calls, emails, or other electronic means) to commit extortion or threaten to injure someone’s reputation, property, or business, it may fall under federal jurisdiction.

RICO Act Violations – The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) allows for the prosecution of individuals engaged in organized criminal activities, including extortion schemes, through the use of illegal enterprises.

Threatening Communications – Federal law prohibits sending threatening communications through the mail or electronic means. If the threat is made for the purpose of obtaining money or something of value from another person, it may be considered extortion.

Cyber Extortion – In cases where extortion involves cybercrimes, such as ransomware attacks where perpetrators demand money in exchange for releasing control of a victim’s computer systems, federal law enforcement agencies may get involved.

Federal Penalties Can Include:

Imprisonment – Conviction for federal extortion can result in a significant prison sentence. Depending on the severity of the offense and other factors, an individual convicted of extortion may face several years to decades in federal prison.
Fines – Federal extortion charges can also lead to substantial fines. The amount of the fine may be determined based on the specific circumstances of the case.
Restitution – In some cases, a convicted extortionist may be ordered to pay restitution to the victim, reimbursing them for any financial losses or damages resulting from the extortion.
Probation – Instead of or in addition to imprisonment, a court may impose probation. During the probationary period, the convicted individual would be required to adhere to specific conditions and restrictions.
Asset Forfeiture – If the extortion involved the acquisition of ill-gotten gains or property, the court may order the forfeiture of these assets.

Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) Charges: In certain cases, extortion may be linked to organized criminal activities. In such instances, the RICO Act may be applied, leading to enhanced penalties.

The penalties for extortion under federal law are typically outlined in Title 18 of the United States Code, specifically in Section 875.

What Does an Extortion Crime Defense Attorney Do?

The defense attorney’s primary role is to advocate for the accused and protect their rights throughout the legal process. Here are some key tasks and responsibilities of an extortion crime defense attorney:

Legal Consultation – The defense attorney will provide a thorough consultation to the accused, explaining their rights, potential penalties, and legal options. They will listen to the client’s side of the story, assess the evidence against them, and develop a defense strategy.

Investigation – The attorney will conduct an independent investigation into the case to gather evidence that may support the client’s defense. This may involve examining police reports, witness statements, surveillance footage, and any other relevant information.

Building a Defense – Based on the evidence collected, the attorney will build a strong defense strategy tailored to the specific circumstances of the case. This could include challenging the credibility of witnesses or investigators, establishing an alibi, or proving that there was no intention to commit extortion.

Negotiating with Prosecutors – In many cases, defense attorneys engage in negotiations with the prosecution to seek a plea bargain or reduced charges for their clients. The goal is to minimize potential penalties and secure the best possible outcome.

Court Representation – If the case proceeds to trial, the defense attorney will represent the accused in court. They will present evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and make arguments to convince the judge and jury of their client’s innocence or reasonable doubt of guilt.

Understanding Relevant Laws – Extortion laws can vary by jurisdiction, and a skilled defense attorney will have a deep understanding of the applicable laws, precedents, and legal defenses related to extortion charges.

Protecting Rights – Throughout the legal process, the defense attorney will ensure that the accused’s constitutional rights are upheld, such as the right to remain silent, the right to a fair trial, and protection against self-incrimination.

Providing Counsel – Apart from handling the legal aspects, a defense attorney will also provide emotional support and counsel to the accused and their family during what can be a highly stressful and challenging time.

Overall, an extortion crime defense attorney works diligently to build a strong defense and protect the interests of their client, aiming for the best possible outcome given the circumstances of the case.

The lawyers at The Attorneys For Freedom Law Firm have been representing people charged with extortion crimes in both state and federal court for over three decades. Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge to provide the best possible defense of these charges.

To schedule a Strategy Session with an experienced extortion crime attorney, contact the Attorneys For Freedom today. We can be reached online at AttorneysForFreedom.com or by calling our Arizona office at 480-755-7110 or our Hawai’i office at 808-647-2423.


Arizona Office Address:
3185 S. Price Rd.
Chandler, AZ 85248
Phone: 480-755-7110
Hawai’i Office Address:
1003 Bishop Street, Suite 1260 Pauahi Tower
Honolulu, Hawai’i 96813
Phone: 808-647-2423
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