Los Angeles Extortion Attorney

Also referred to as blackmail, extortion in California is governed by Penal Codes 518 and 527. Centered on a threat, a charge of extortion doesn’t have anything to do with the actual threat as some threats are legal (i.e., like threatening to turn your neighbor in for spousal abuse). The crime of extortion only applies when you seek to gain something from the threat (i.e., “I won’t report you to the police, if you pay me $1000.”).

Therefore, according to California law extortion only occurs when:

  • You use threats or force to compel someone to give you property or money
  • You use threats or force to compel a public officer to perform an official act
  • You use your position as a public official to compel another to give you money or property under color of official right

Threats that Constitute Extortion per PC 518

Threatening someone with fear or force even if you think that you have a right to a property or are convinced the person committed a crime doesn’t exonerate you from being charged with extortion. The danger of being accused of extortion is a result of the purpose of California’s extortion laws which were set into place to protect against self-help. Regardless of your conviction that you are right about something, you can’t go around using force and/or fear to make someone do something from which you will gain something. Threats can take the form of a verbal confrontation, a letter, an email, a text message, a phone call or by other means.

Threats that are construed as extortionist threats per PC 518 include the following.

  • Threats to injure the property or a person
  • Threats to accuse a targeted person or his or her relatives of a crime
  • Threats to connect a targeted person or his or her relatives with a crime, disgrace, or deformity
  • Threats to reveal a secret that will adversely affect a targeted person or his or her relatives

Some Defenses for a Charge of Extortion in California

Typically charged as a felony, extortion is punishable by up to a term of four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. However, even though the penalties for extortion in California seem severe, several defenses exist which can make it difficult to convict you of the crime. A claim of right or good faith exception is not defenses to Penal Code 518. Defenses for extortion that have proved effective in California include the following.

  • Consent
  • False accusation
  • Innocence
  • Insufficient evidence

R.J. Manuelian Offers Legal Representation to Those Accused of Extortion in California

Previously a crime that only public officials were tried for, extortion has become a white collar crime that just about anyone can fall victim to. If you or someone you know has been accused of extortion, you need to contact and retain a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. R.J. Manuelian has had great success in the defense of white collar crimes like extortion. Let him put his experience to work for you. Contact him today for a free consultation concerning any white collar crimes you may have been accused of.

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