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Los Angeles Extortion Defense Attorneys

Wrongfully Accused of Extortion in Los Angeles? We Can Help.

Extortion in California is considered a serious crime and it can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony. In either case, those convicted are looking at fines, jail time, and most importantly, a ruined reputation and career. The penalties for extortion in Los Angeles can be heavy.

Thankfully, there are valid legal defenses against extortion that could be effective in your case. With an experienced white-collar criminal defense attorney by your side, your chances of the charges being dismissed, reduced, or an acquittal are greatly increased.

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What is Extortion?

Extortion is covered under California Penal Code PC 518 and is defined as:

"The obtaining of property or other consideration from another, with his or her 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."

In simple terms, extortion consists of:

Threatening someone to obtain something of value: The first part of the crime is the threat of some form of danger to coerce the victim into voluntarily providing something of value, whether its money, service or any other item of value. This threat can be a threat of violence against the person, their business, or their family, or it can be a threatened refusal to perform a legitimate public act or any other potential harm. These threats can be overt, subtle, or even implied.

Obtaining that item of value: For extortion to be committed, the victim must provide the item of value, or perform the service.

With their consent: The victim must have consented to give the item or perform the service as a result of the threat.

To be convicted of extortion, the extortion itself must be "successful" with the victim voluntarily providing the item of value or performing the service. If the extortion is "unsuccessful," the crime becomes less severe and is considered attempted extortion, which is also covered under California Penal Code PC 518.

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What Are Different Types of Extortion?

There are several ways that extortion can be performed:

Extortion by a public official: Any public official who threatens to perform or refuse to perform an act in their official capacity can be charged with extortion.

Extortion by a gang: Gang or "mob" extortion is often glorified in the movies, with criminal groups threatening businesses and demanding "protection money" in exchange for leaving them alone. It can, however, happen.

Extortion by a private individual: Any private individual who threatens another with harm if they don't provide goods or services can be charged with extortion.

Blackmail: Blackmail is a type of extortion where a victim is threatened with having embarrassing or damaging private information revealed unless the victim provides goods or services.

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What Are The Penalties for Extortion?

Extortion is a felony in California, while attempted extortion can be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances involved. The penalties include:


  • Up to four years in county prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • Both the fine and the jail time

Misdemeanor attempted extortion:

  • Up to one year in county prison,
  • A fine of up to $1,000,
  • Both the fine and jail time

Felony attempted extortion:

  • Up to three years in county prison,
  • A fine of up to $10,000,
  • Both the fine and the jail time

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Common Defenses for Extortion Charges

Extortion can be a complicated crime, and you must remember that the burden of proof is on the prosecution – they must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you're guilty, not the other way around. Some of the common defenses for extortion are:

You didn't coerce the victim into providing the item or performing the service: If you can show that the alleged victim provided the item or performed the service for reasons other than your threat, you are not guilty of extortion.

False accusation: Charging someone with extortion is, unfortunately, a common method of "getting back at someone" or maliciously harming another's career. False accusations are common.

Insufficient evidence: The prosecution must provide evidence that each part of the crime occurred – the threat, the providing of goods or services, and the consent of the alleged victim. In many cases, we can show that the evidence provided by the prosecution is circumstantial and otherwise insufficient for a conviction.

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What to Do if You've Been Charged with Extortion

If you've been charged with extortion, our team at Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP can help. Los Angeles Magazine listed our managing partner, Mr. Mark Werksman, as one of LA's "top white-collar criminal defense attorneys," and our team brings decades of experience to bear fighting for you. Contact us today at (213) 688-0460 to schedule a no-cost consultation.

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Additional Information

Contact Werksman Jackson & Quinn LLP Today
Phone: (213) 688-0460
Fax: (213) 624-1942

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