California Penal Code 518-527 PC
PC 518-527 – Extortion; aka Blackmail
Extortion; aka Blackmail – Table of Contents
- PC 518-527 Overview
- PC 518-527 Prosecuting
- PC 518-527 Penalties
- PC 518-527 Defending
- PC 518-527 Extortion
- Extortion; aka Blackmail – Hire Us
Extortion aka Blackmail is more commonly known as ‘blackmail’, ‘coercion’, ‘payoff’, ‘ransom’, ‘demand’, ‘to squeeze’ or ‘shakedown’.
Under California Penal Code Section 518, extortion; aka blackmail is obtaining property from another, with his consent, by the wrongful use of force or fear.
Fear may be caused by threatening to:
- Injure a person or property
- Accuse the victim or their relative of a crime
- Disgrace the victim or their relatives
- Reveal a secret affecting the victim or their relatives
Some examples of illegal demands from someone in return for not injuring them or someone they know, or revealing compromising information about them are:
- Applying violence or threat to get finances or personal property
- EXAMPLE: Raul borrowed $5000 from Jorge and promised to pay him back. Raul avoids Jorge, so Jorge sends his cousins to Raul’s home and they threaten physical harm if Raul does not pay the money. As a result of the threat, Raul hands over the money.
- EXAMPLE: A businessman threatens to expose a city council member’s extramarital affair if she does not vote in favor of a proposal that will help his business.
- EXAMPLE: A police officer threatens to frame a businessman for a crime if the businessman doesn’t give him money.
Extortion (PC 518) of a public officer occurs when one obtains an official act of a public officer under the color of official right. For example, a health inspector is acting under the color of official right when he/she is granting health permits.
Several things must be proven in order to successfully bring charges and convict someone of committing the crime of Extortion; aka Blackmail.
The prosecutor must be able to establish ALL of the following:
- The defendant:
- threatened to unlawfully injure another person; or
- threatened to accuse someone else of a crime; or
- threatened to expose a secret of another person
- When making the threat or using force, the defendant intended to use that fear or force to obtain the other person’s consent, money, property, or have that other person perform an official act
- As a result of the threat or use of force, the other person consented to the defendant’s demands; AND
- As a result of the threat or use of force, the other person complied with the defendant’s demands
Prosecutors will tend to put special emphasis on Extortion cases because of their complex nature. They are often categorized as violent crime if the ‘criminal threats’ that are made involve physical harm to people or property.
CA Penal Code Sections 518-527 Extortion; aka Blackmail is a felony.
As a felony, an extortion; aka blackmail charge in any form is not to be taken lightly. The penalties involve prison time, so the stakes are high:
- Up to 4 Years in a California State Prison
- A maximum fine of $10,000
Proving Extortion; aka Blackmail can be difficult, due to the necessary elements that need to be proven. Some common defenses include:
Ways of Defense
- You were falsely accused
- You did not actually coerce the alleged victim into consenting to hand over property,
- There was insufficient evidence to support a conviction.
All cases are unique and details certainly matter in PC 518 cases. If you or a loved one is being charged with Extortion, we invite you to call us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and call you back ASAP. Our experienced and assiduous criminal defense team will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely. If necessary we are prepared to go to trial.
If you issue the threat through writing, you may be charged with extortion by threatening letter under California Penal Code 523 PC. A common example of this crime is ‘Ransomware’.
Ransomware is a cybercrime in California that is prosecuted under extortion law. Ransomware cases are slightly unique because the act of holding your data hostage has already happened before the demand for payment is made.
Ransomware crimes generated $209 million in payments in the first three months of 2016, and the number of cases is on the rise. This crime is punishable by up to four years in jail.
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How to Win Your Case
We cannot stress enough that you read, understand and follow these 10 basic rules if you are criminally charged or under investigation:
- Don’t ever talk to the police
- Do not discuss your case with anyone
- Everything you tell your lawyer is confidential
- Tell police you need to contact your attorney
- Never consent to any search by the police
- If the police knock on your door, don't answer!
- Realize the consequences of a criminal conviction
- Your lawyer (not you) will contact any witnesses
- Information on your cell phone is evidence
- Early Intervention is the key