Extortion is a white collar criminal activity closely related to robbery. To be indicted on charges of extortion, the offender must have acquired money or property from someone else through the illegal use of force, threats, abuse of power, blackmail, ransom, or fear. Whereas robbery uses force to take a person’s belongings against his or her will, victims of extortion agree to give the offender their money or property in order to avoid the threatened consequences.
Persons may be charged with extortion without having accepted money or property. If there are records of an individual threatening to take some action if he or she does not receive money, a person can be found guilty of extortion even if no goods or services have changed hands. In this case, intent is enough to qualify as criminal behavior.
Threats need not always be physical in an extortion case – they can include threats to harm a person’s family, expose a devastating secret to an employer or spouse, jeopardize the victim’s business, or file damaging testimony in court against the victim. In the case of government officials and police officers, extortion can be committed if a larger-than-necessary sum of money is collected or if a person accepts payment in exchange for refraining to take legal action. If you have been accused of money laundering or extortion, an experienced white collar criminal attorney can help.