Is Blackmail a Crime of Extortion in California? (PC 524)
You’ve probably heard the term “blackmail” before. It is commonly heard in movies, TV shows, and on the news. However, blackmail is a serious crime that carries harsh penalties.
Blackmail is a form of extortion. It occurs when you try to get information or money out of another person by threatening to expose a secret of that person’s, or when you offer another person money or something of value in order to prevent that person from accusing you of a crime.
Extortion in California (PC 524)
Under California Penal Code Section 524, you could be convicted of extortion if it can be proven that you:
- Threatened the alleged victim or their family with physical injury
- Threated to accuse the alleged victim or their family of a crime, or
- Threatened to expose a secret of the alleged victim or their family member
In addition to one of these criteria, it must also be proven that:
- You made this threat to force the alleged victim into consenting to give you money or property or to perform an official act
- The alleged victim consented with your demands as a result of the threat, and
- The victim actually gave you money or performed whatever act you demanded.
“Blackmailing” someone is considered extortion because it typically means that you threatened a person in some way to gain money or have that person do something for you.
Punishment for Extortion
Extortion is a felony under California law. If you are convicted of this crime, you face up to four years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If the extortion was committed as a result of promoting or helping a criminal street gang, it will qualify as a “strike” on your criminal record under California’s Three Strikes law.
If you attempted to blackmail someone but that person did not give into your demands, you could be convicted of attempted extortion. This crime could be a felony or a misdemeanor in California. A felony is punishable by up to three years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines, while a misdemeanor carries up to 364 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000.
Defenses to Extortion Charges in California
The best thing you could do if you are accused of extortion or blackmail in California is hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. A skilled and knowledgeable criminal lawyer will know the valid defenses to these charges.
Some defenses an extortion attorney may be able to use in your case include:
- The alleged victim consented to give you money or perform an act for a reason other than your threats
- You had no intent of using force on the alleged victim
- You were wrongfully accused
Contact an Extortion Attorney at Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing extortion charges as a result of blackmail, it is important that you contact a skilled criminal lawyer who can help you obtain a positive result in your case. At Wallin & Klarich, our knowledgeable attorneys have been successfully defending our clients accused of serious crimes for more than 40 years. We can help you now.
With offices in Orange County, Los Angeles, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance and West Covina, you can find a dedicated Wallin & Klarich attorney available near you no matter where you are located.
Call us at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.