Orange County Extortion Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with extortion, you need contact the Orange County white collar lawyers at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti right away. Extortion is commonly known as blackmail. You are generally charged with this crime if you use a force of threat to compel somebody to either do something for you or perform some kind of action for you. If you are being accused of this crime, it is very important that you not only read this information, but contact our firm, because this crime carries potential prison time.
Extortion is covered under Penal Code (PC) 518, which states,
"Extortion is 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."
"Fear" under extortion is a threat to do one of the following:
- Injure a person or damage property;
- Accuse the person or their relatives of an alleged crime;
- Connect the individual with a disgrace, deformity, or crime; or
- Reveal a secret affecting the targeted individual or their relatives.
It is important to know that fear in extortion cases does not have to include the use of threatening language or even the demand for a certain amount of money so long as the fear meets the requirements listed above. It is also important to note that once you receive the property in question, it does not matter if you never intended to use the item or chose to not to cash a check—all that matters is that you used threats and/or a forceful act toward another person to obtain the item, thus violating PC 518.
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The crime of extortion is complete once the form of communication is received to the intended person regardless of that person's response to you; this crime is also considered complete once you deliver your item to the Post Office or by using some other commercial deliver service. If you used the Post Office, Internet, or even text messaging to allegedly commit your blackmail, you invite additional federal charges.
It's important to note where the legal line is crossed and when a threat becomes extortion. If, for example, you discover your neighbor running an illegal gambling operation out of his house and you confront him and threaten to call the police on him that is NOT extortion. However, if you confront your neighbor and threaten to call police UNLESS he gives you a cut of the money then that becomes extortion, regardless of whether or not the other person was actually committing a crime.
In extortion cases there are no "good faith" or "claim of right" defenses. This means if you believe you have a right to the property, no matter how rightfully sincere, but used fear and/or force to obtain the property, you could still face possible extortion charges.
You could be charged with blackmail if you deliver a false court document designed to convince the targeted individual that it is an official court document by intending to obtain property or other items from that document. It is important to point out that if you simply make, produce, or sell phony court documents you can still be prosecuted for blackmail and extortion. You could also face forgery charges.
The Orange County District Attorney must show four facts before prosecuting you for this crime.
- You obtained property (sometimes known as an official act) from another;
- The property was obtained with the consent of that person;
- The said consent was induced through force or fear; and
- You used force or fear intending to induce that person to give you property.
Claiming the alleged victim consented is often a strong defense move. However, when it comes to extortion, most of the time the prosecution will say, "Yes, this victim consented to giving the suspect the property, but only because the suspect coerced and induced the victim with fear that made the victim unwillingly consent to hand over the property."
An official act is when you extort or blackmail an elected official. Basically, if you tell an elected official why he/she should vote on a certain act and even go so far as to say why he/she is a horrible person if they don't vote on the act, that isn't extortion. The legal line is crossed into extortion when you say to the elected official, "If you don't vote for this act, I am going to expose explicit photographs I have of you."
Extortion cases are often charged as felony cases. If convicted, you could face between 2 to 4 years in a California state prison and up to a $10,000 fine. Extortion does not require the crime to be "complete"—that is to say simply sending a letter is enough to invite this charge; subsequently, you can be punished for a "complete" crime if you only attempted to extort or blackmail. Also, if the personal you allegedly blackmailed was a senior or somebody who has a mental and/or physical impairment, the prosecution may ask the judge to consider that as an aggravating factor in your sentencing. Depending on the value you allegedly extorted, you could even possibly face additional charges for petty or grand theft.
As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we have several years of successfully defending our clients against charges of extortion and blackmail. We have seen many cases where a spouse, boy/girlfriend, ex-friend, or individual will create and tell some kind of extortion plot to police to "get back" at you.
Though our years of experience, we know how to "poke" holes through such cases and prove your innocence. As well, we have seen several cases where coworkers and even employers try to set people up; again, we know how to show prosecutors "holes" in the employer's case against you.
As you can see, blackmail and extortion is not something to take lightly—you could have time taken away from you by going to prison, along with facing possible federal charges and theft charges. That is why you must call the Orange County extortion defense lawyers at Law Office of Michael L. Guisti right now to set up an appointment. By calling us, there are plenty of defense strategies that we can utilize; among them is the possibility of working out a deal with the DA to reduce charges or, depending on the facts in your case, possibly getting your charges downright dismissed. Just because are arrested for extortion, does not automatically make you guilty of the crime. Call us at (714) 530-9690 now to get started with your defense now!
Whether you're facing a felony or a misdemeanor, don't risk a conviction. Act quickly to redeem your reputation and protect your record by consulting with our Orange County criminal defense lawyer. Call today to schedule your free consultation.