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What is Extortion? Extortion, Robbery and Blackmailing


In the United States, extortion is a crime that occurs when one person unlawfully obtains property from another by use of force or fear. In order to be convicted of this offense, an individual must have committed “an act in furtherance” of the threat.

Extortion also requires that the victim was coerced into surrendering their property and not voluntarily giving it up because they were threatened with physical harm. The consequences for committing this crime vary depending on whether there are any other charges filed alongside it; however, generally speaking, if convicted of this charge an individual will face fines and imprisonment time ranging between 2-8 years.

What is Extortion?

The act of obtaining profit through coercion is known as extortion. It is most likely to be a criminal infraction in most countries; the bulk of this post focuses on instances like these. Robbery is the most basic and frequent type of extortion, but obtaining an unfair business advantage through unwarranted threats is also a form of the crime.

Organized crime frequently engages in extortion. In some jurisdictions, actually receiving the benefit is not required to commit the act, and making a threat of violence that requires a payment of money or property to prevent future harm is sufficient.

Exaction implies not just imposition or the use of force to obtain something, but it also encompasses the infliction of pain and suffering, as well as making someone endure something unpleasant, in its formal definition.

Extortion, Robbery and Blackmailing


Extortion differs from robbery by its modus operandi. The robber uses immediate force or the threat of it to take property from the victim, no matter whether he is armed or not. Extortion, which includes any form of coercion that takes property from victims, entails the use of words or writing to instill fear in them if they do not comply with the extortionist’s demands.

Another distinction to consider is that the crime always includes a verbal or written threat, on the other hand, robbery does not. According to federal law, this act in the United States may be carried out by or without the use of force, and with or without the use of a weapon.

In the case of blackmailing, the extortionist threatens to reveal information about a victim or their family members that is potentially embarrassing, socially damaging, or incriminating unless a demand for money, property, or services is met.

How Is Extortion Punished in the United States?

The crime of extortion is classified as a felony in every state, and the penalties for it are often severe. The most serious category of offense, one that may result in a year or more in jail and substantial fines, is referred to as a felony. In certain jurisdictions and circumstances, the crime might be labeled a misdemeanor, in which case it carries lower penalties and jail time.

There are four different punishments for this crime:

  • Fines: The fines can be as high as $10,000 or more per conviction.
  • Restitution: A person convicted of this specific crime must usually make restitution to the victim, especially if the victim has lost something valuable. Restitution, unlike a fine, is paid to the victim as compensation for the harm suffered.
  • Incarceration: Extortion sentences might be lengthy. Each individual extortion attempt may result in a prison sentence of up to 15 years in many states.
  • Probation: For an extortion conviction, courts may order probation as a sanction. When someone has tried but failed to extort and no property was lost as a result of the victim’s payments, the court is more likely to impose a probation sentence. The length of a probation sentence is typically 12 months or longer, and it may include a fine as well as the requirement that the convicted person comply with certain conditions set by the court, such as staying employed and not contacting the victim. Probation is generally followed by imprisonment if you do not obey its conditions.
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