California Extortion Laws

Understanding California Extortion and Blackmail Laws

Extortion is a property offense that includes criminal activities such as blackmail. California extortion states that a prosecutor can bring an extortion charge when a defendant applied a threat to obtain property from their owner. A prosecutor can also bring an extortion charge if a threat from the defendant compelled a public official to perform an act unwillingly.

California law distinguishes between robbery and extortion offenses. An individual performing a robbery act takes the property of another, without the consent of the victim, and from the immediate presence of the victim. However, extortion is where the victim gives their permission because of a threat, and the property can be taken from beyond the immediate vicinity of the victim.

According to the California law, a prosecutor has to show that the defendant had a specific intent of using the threat as a way of obtaining the consent of the victim for the taking of property or the official act. A written letter or spoken threat can reflect the intent of the defendant to extort property or influence a public official to perform an official act.

The prosecutor should give proof that the extortion victim consented to the demand of the defendant because of their threat. The defendant’s threat should have made the victim feel fear and give consent. If the victim consented for many reasons, only one of which was the threat of the defendant, it can be harder for the prosecutor to be successful with an extortion case.

Sacramento extortion law states that extortion is a felony offense that can lead to a hefty fine or prison sentence. If convicted of extortion, by threatening letter, or of signature, money or property, you could face up to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10, 000.  If convicted for attempted extortion, you could face a sentence of up to one year in county jail and up to $10,000 in fines.

In case of any aggravated circumstances in your case, for instance, you extorted or tried extorting from a senior citizen, or a person with a mental or physical disability, you could face additional penalties as per the California Penal Code 525.


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