Extortion occurs when you obtain something, whether assets or money, through threats or the use of force. You should know that extortion is against the law, and it can result in federal charges. 

An example of extortion would be if you suggested to someone that you wanted them to pay you a fee each week to monitor the neighborhood. They might say it’s unnecessary and give a polite, “No thank you.” If you then suggest that you’d “hate to see something happen to someone they love,” your words could easily be seen as a threat. They may pay you a “community protection fee” believing that, if they don’t, you are going to harm someone in their family. That certainly sounds like extortion.

In most states, extortion is defined as receiving money or assets through the threat of violence or actual force. It can also include the threat of damage to someone’s property, threats to a person’s reputation or threatening an unfavorable action within the government.

Though extortion may occur within a state’s boundaries, it’s a federal offense and a felony. As a result, prison time is a real risk for those who are accused and convicted, which is why it’s smart to work with your attorney on your defense if you’re facing these kinds of charges.

It is possible to defend against charges of extortion, especially if you can show that you did not use force or threats. For example, if you weren’t threatening the family of the business owner in the above example but suggesting, instead, that your legitimate security service and patrol is a necessary safety measure they should consider, then the extortion claim could be misplaced and based on a simple misunderstanding. 

If you’ve been charged with extortion, find out more about your potential avenues of defense today.