When we think about extortion, we often consider this is the type of crime perpetrated against celebrities or politicians. However, there are no specific categories of individuals who are victims of this offense. Almost anyone can be subjected to extortion, or what is commonly referred to as blackmail, and equally, anyone can be charged for the crime under California Penal Code.
Extortion is a serious offense that can result in time behind bars if found guilty. If you are being investigated for blackmail or arrested and charged, it is critical that you seek the advice of a San Diego extortion attorney.
Generally, extortion is understood as the use of force or some threat to get money or property from another. In addition to this definition, extortion under California law also includes:
- Using force or threats against a public officer to compel him or her to carry out an official act; or
- Using a public office to compel another to hand over money or property.
Accordingly, there are a number of scenarios that can be classified as extortion. It is a complicated area of law and so it is important to speak with an attorney if you or a loved one is being charged with the offense.
It is an essential element of the crime that the victim performs the actions that are the subject of the threat. If that is not present, but the other elements exist, you could be charged with attempted extortion. The offense is considered a wobbler under California law, and the prosecution may proceed with the matter as a felony or as a misdemeanor.
In addition to attempted extortion, there are some other cases in which extortion will be considered a misdemeanor. This can include, where you are accused of using a false document to obtain money or property of value from another. If you participate in the making or circulation of the said document, you can also be charged with misdemeanor extortion.
What Are The Penalties For Extortion?
The penalties associated with any crime are generally an indication of its seriousness. In matters concerning extortion, the penalties are in keeping with the fact that it is a California felony. The penalties will include time behind bars upwards of 4 years, a maximum fine of $10,000, and probation.
Sentencing will depend on the facts of each case and criminal history of the individual being sentenced. However, the following are also important to the sentencing options available to the court, if you are found guilty of blackmail.
- If the victim of your blackmail happens to be a dependent or a senior citizen, this will be considered an aggravating factor, and the penalties will reflect that.
- Extortion is amongst those serious offenses that can be considered a strike on your record if you are found guilty.
Attempted extortion will quite naturally invite fewer penalties as a misdemeanor, with potential jail time of up to one year and a fine of $1,000. However, as a felony, attempted extortion can include 3 years in jail and a fine similar to the substantial crime of extortion.
For the few instances in which the law recognizes extortion as just a misdemeanor, the penalties will include jail time of up to 6 months and a fine of $1,000.
How Can I Defend Against An Extortion Case?
Being accused of blackmail can be a nightmare, especially when you are innocent. Despite the accusations and the confidence of the prosecution, the law dictates that you are innocent until proven guilty. While it is the prosecution who has the burden in a criminal matter to prove that you are guilty, as a prudent defendant, you will need to put forward a sound defense to secure your freedom.
In a lot of extortion cases, it is the victim’s account and interpretation of events against yours. It is not unusual to be falsely accused by a victim that is motivated by malice. If you are being accused of something you did not do, discuss the matter with your lawyer. Discrediting the witness and providing a valid and legitimate reason for any circumstantial evidence will be critical to beating your charges.
The presence of some threat or force is an essential element of the crime of extortion. When this is absent, for example ,if the victim willingly handed over the property for valid consideration, you will have a good chance of winning your case.
There are many aspects to a criminal matter and you should never try to represent yourself. Rely on the experience and knowledge of a San Diego extortion attorney to research and prepare your case.
Hire An Experienced San Diego Extortion Attorney
You should not leave your legal representation up to chance when you are facing charges of extortion. Blackmail is a serious offense, and as a felony carries jail time with additional long-reaching consequences that can inhibit your ability to get a job in the future. For years, McElfresh Law has represented individuals charged with extortion in San Diego, California. Our attorneys are criminal defense lawyers who are possessed with in-depth knowledge of the legal system and will work to present a sound defense.
At McElfresh Law, we understand that this can be a very confusing time for you and your family. Our commitment to you is to provide high-quality criminal defense representation. Call us today at (858) 756-7107 and let us help you prove your innocence.