The California Penal Code Section 518 defines extortion as the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.
In order to prove that a person is guilty of extortion, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that:
<Alternative 1A-threatened to injure or used force>
[1. The defendant (threatened to unlawfully injure/ [or] used force against) (another person or a third person/ [or] the property of another person or a third person);]
<Alternative 1B-threatened to accuse of crime>
[1. The defendant threatened to accuse another person[, or that person’s relative or family member,] of a crime;]
<Alternative 1C-threatened to expose secret>
- [The defendant threatened to expose a secret about another person[, or that person’s relative or family member,] [or to expose or connect (him/her/any of them) with a (disgrace[,]/ [or] crime[,]/ [or] deformity)];]
- When (making the threat/ [or] using force), the defendant intended to use that (fear/ [or] force) to obtain the other person’s consent (to give the defendant money [or property]/ [or] to do an official act);
- As a result of the (threat/ [or] use of force), the other person consented (to give the defendant money [or property]/ [or] to do an official act); AND
- As a result of the (threat/ [or] use of force), the other person then (gave the defendant money [or property]/ [or] did an official act).
Consent has a special meaning here. Consent for extortion can be coerced or unwilling, as long as it is given as a result of the wrongful use of force or fear.
Official Act is an act that a person does in his or her official capacity, using the authority of his or her public office.
The (threat/use of force) must be the controlling reason that the other person consented. If the person consented because of some other controlling reason, the defendant is not guilty of extortion. Threatening to do something that a person has a legal right to do is not a threat to commit an unlawful injury. The threat may involve harm to be inflicted by the defendant or by someone else.
Fear may be induced by a threat, either:
- To do an unlawful injury to the person or property of the individual threatened or of a third person; or,
- To accuse the individual threatened, or any relative of his, or member of his family, of any crime; or
- To expose, or to impute to him or them any deformity, disgrace or crime; or
- To expose any secret affecting him or them.
A Secret is a fact that:
- is unknown to the general public or to someone who might be interested in knowing the fact; AND
- harms the threatened person’s reputation or other interest so greatly that he or she would be likely to (give the defendant money [or property]/[or] do an official act) to prevent the fact from being revealed.]
Sentences for Extortion
Under Penal Code Section 518, the sentencing range for the crime of Extortion is two (2), three (3) or four (4) years in state prison. If the extortion was accomplished under color of official right then the crime is punishable as a misdemeanor and by up to 6 months in the county jail and a $1,000 fine or both.
Defending Yourself Against Extortion Charges
If you or anyone you know has been charged with extortion, there are defenses available to you that our attorneys can present on your behalf in court.
Contact the Redwood City criminal attorneys at Ahmed & Sukaram, Attorneys at Law today because your freedom depends upon it. We represent clients charged with extortion in Palo Alto, San Jose, San Mateo and locations across the Bay Area.