Extortion is the practice of obtaining money or property from someone through coercion or force.
California state laws allow victims of extortion, with the help of a prosecutor, to file charges before a court. The crime of extortion used to cover only actions by public or government officials but nowadays applies to actions by private citizens as well.
The prosecutor must convince the court that the defendant had a specific intent to use the threat as a way to obtain the victim’s consent for the taking of property or official act. Under California’s law (Cal. Pen. Code, § 519.) a person can be accused of extortion if it is determined that he threatened to injure the victim or another person, expose a secret, or report a person to immigration.
To prove intent, the prosecutor can demonstrate the defendant intended to obtain property from the victim without having to actually show what was going on in the defendant’s head.
A spoken threat or a written letter might reflect the defendant’s intent to commit the crime. However, the prosecutor must prove that the victim only consented to the demands due to the defendant’s threat.
Attempted extortion attracts a fine of $10,000, a jail term of up to one year in county jail, a fine and imprisonment or imprisonment in state prison.
A conviction in an extortion case can result in imprisonment lasting for two to four years in state prison.