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What is extortion and how can it affect me if charged?

Extortion is a very serious white collar crime. White collar crimes are those that often involve some sort of illegal financial gain. Extortion, in short, occurs when you acquire property or money by threatening an individual, his or her loved ones, or property. It can also occur if you falsify your claim of right to the property or money. You might think this crime sound like robbery, since there is an element of intimidation or threat, but extortion differs in that the threat does not pose an immediate risk of harm.

In order to be convicted of extortion, there must be some sort of threat. However, this threat of harm does not have to be of a physical nature. For example, blackmail is a form of extortion and may include the threat to reveal potentially damaging information about the victim. Therefore, this is a pretty far reaching law that can have serious implications for you if you are convicted of such a charge.

Extortion is a felony crime in many states, but it can also be a federal crime. This means that if you are convicted of this offense, then you might be dealt some serious penalties. A lengthy prison sentence, up to 20 years in some instances, can be a severe blow to your life. You could lose your job, be stripped away from loved ones, and have to cope with the reality that you will not see the outside world again for years.

Though this may sound scary, and it is, it is important to note that if you face these types of allegations, you may be able to successfully fight them. By putting on an aggressive and thorough defense, you might be able to convince a judge and jury that there is doubt as to your guilt. Thus, you should make sure you know the law and your legal options before heading into a legal battle, such as the one you would face with an extortion charge.

Source: FindLaw, "Extortion," accessed on Apr. 17, 2015

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