Criminal Defense Lawyers for Blackmail and Extortion Charges
Facing charges of blackmail or extortion is a deeply serious and distressing situation. A conviction can lead to severe penalties, including prison time, fines, and a permanent criminal record that can adversely affect your personal and professional life.
At Patituce & Associates, our experienced team of Cleveland extortion defense lawyers is dedicated to defending individuals accused of these charges. As former prosecutors, we have an in-depth understanding of criminal law and the gravity of these charges and will work diligently to protect your rights, reputation, and future.
What is Extortion?
Extortion is a criminal act that involves obtaining money, property, services, or some other benefit from another person through coercion. The coercion can take many forms, including threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful, or harmful information about someone or threatening physical harm to the victim or someone close to the victim.
Extortion is often grouped under the bracket of “white collar crimes,” or non-violent crimes typically committed by business or government professionals. These offenses are typically characterized by deceit, concealment, or breach of trust and are often motivated by financial gain. In the legal context, extortion is often classified as a theft offense because it involves unlawfully taking something of value from another. The key element that distinguishes extortion from robbery or other forms of theft is the use of threats or intimidation to gain compliance.
Extortion can occur in various situations and contexts. It may involve demands for money in exchange for protection, threats to damage property unless paid, or blackmail involving personal or private information. The threats used in extortion can be explicit or implicit and may be conveyed verbally, in writing, or even through non-verbal means.
The laws governing extortion vary between jurisdictions, and the penalties can range widely depending on the severity of the threat, the value of what is demanded, and other factors. Both state and federal laws may apply, and the legal definitions and requirements may differ accordingly.
An attempt to commit extortion, even if unsuccessful, may still constitute a criminal offense. If you are accused of extortion or a related crime, it is crucial to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who understands the specific laws and regulations that apply in your jurisdiction.
Different Types of Extortion
Extortion is a complex and multifaceted crime that can take many forms. While the core concept revolves around obtaining something of value through coercion, threats, or intimidation, there are various methods and situations where extortion can occur. Some common types of extortion include:
- Blackmail: Often considered a form of extortion, blackmail involves threatening to reveal embarrassing, disgraceful, or harmful information about someone unless certain demands are met, usually involving payment of money.
- Protection Extortion: This type of extortion occurs when an individual or group makes demands or receives payment in exchange for protection from harm. It’s often associated with organized crime, where businesses might be forced to pay “protection money” to avoid damage or disruption.
- Commercial Extortion: This involves threats to a business or its reputation. It may include threats to expose business secrets, harm the business’s reputation, or physically damage the business property unless demands are met.
- Cyber Extortion: This modern form of extortion involves threats to damage or disable a person’s or organization’s computer systems or to release sensitive information unless payment is made. Ransomware attacks are a common example of cyber extortion.
- Public Officer Extortion: This involves a public officer using their position to obtain money or other benefits unlawfully. For example, a government official might demand a bribe in exchange for a favorable decision.
- Loan Shark Extortion: Individuals or groups who lend money at exorbitant interest rates might use threats or violence to ensure repayment, effectively turning the lending and collection process into an act of extortion.
- Legal Process Extortion: This involves threatening to take legal action, such as filing a lawsuit unless demands are met. While it is legal to threaten legal action if it’s done in good faith, it becomes extortion if there is no valid legal claim and the sole intent is to coerce payment.
- Sexual Extortion: This type of extortion also overlaps with other sex crimes and typically involves threats to release sexually explicit images or information unless the victim complies with demands, often involving more images or sexual favors.
These various forms of extortion are treated with gravity in the legal system and can lead to severe penalties if convicted. The laws and penalties can vary depending on the jurisdiction, nature of the threats, value involved, and other factors. If you are facing charges related to any form of extortion in Ohio, it is imperative to consult with experienced criminal defense lawyers, like our team at Patituce & Associates, to ensure your rights are protected.
Ohio Law and Extortion (ORC 2905.11)
Using threats to obtain money or property or cause a person to do something is a violation of Ohio’s extortion statute (O.R.C. 2905.11). Prosecutors can charge you if you threaten to commit harm to someone or threaten to reveal information about them that can cause them harm. Menacing to achieve an end is also considered a form of extortion. Extortion is a third-degree felony with the potential penalty of prison time of up to five years.
Is Extortion a Federal Crime?
In addition to being a crime under Ohio’s state laws, extortion can also be prosecuted as a federal offense. Under the Hobbs Act (18 U.S.C. § 1951), federal prosecutors can charge individuals who interfere with commerce by using robbery or extortion. The act can apply whether or not the alleged perpetrator has a connection to interstate commerce, giving federal authorities broad jurisdiction to prosecute extortion cases.
The penalties for violations of federal law can be even more severe than those at the state level. A conviction under the Hobbs Act can result in up to 20 years in federal prison. Moreover, fines and restitution may also be imposed, potentially leading to significant financial burdens.
Being charged with a federal crime is a serious matter, and the federal court system operates differently from the state courts in Ohio. If you are facing federal extortion charges, it is essential to work with an attorney who is experienced in handling federal criminal cases.
Penalties for Extortion in Ohio
Extortion is the use of threats to obtain something from another and is often tied to financial crimes. By itself, extortion is a third-degree felony. When extortion is tied into other charges, you may be looking at a complicated case that will be prosecuted under organized crime statutes, where the terms of imprisonment and fines are extreme.
Jail Time for Extortion Charges
For a third-degree felony in Ohio, the potential prison sentence ranges from 9 to 36 months, with a maximum possible prison time of up to 5 years. The exact length of the sentence can depend on various factors, such as the nature and severity of the threat, the value of the property or money involved, whether a weapon was used, and the defendant’s prior criminal record.
Additionally, a conviction for extortion can lead to other serious consequences beyond imprisonment. These may include fines, probation, restitution to the victim, community service, or mandatory participation in counseling or educational programs.
Whatever the scale of your charges, a felony record in Cleveland will lock you out of jobs, educational opportunities, housing, and more. You have to fight back against charges like extortion, and your best hope of success comes when you work with an experienced Cleveland criminal defense attorney.
How Can Our Cleveland Extortion Lawyers Help You?
If you are facing criminal charges related to extortion, you should not hesitate to contact our firm today:
- We have two former prosecutors on the team.
- We have more than three decades of experience.
- We have taken two hundred different cases to trial.
- We have a reputation for excellence in our local community.
How Can I Find an Extortion Attorney Near Me?
At Patituce & Associates, our team of former prosecutors knows both sides of how a case is constructed and can present the highest quality defense. Talk to an experienced Cleveland extortion attorney for free at one of our convenient offices in North Olmsted, Independence, Beachwood, or Downtown.
Patituce & Associates, LCC – Cleveland Office
600 Superior Avenue East,
Cleveland, OH 44114