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Common Defenses to Extortion

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2019/06/14 at 02:43pm

Experienced White Collar Defense Attorney in Alexandria, VA

Extortion is a serious felony offense in Virginia, and throughout the country at-large.  It is the illegal gaining of money, services, benefits, and other things of value by threatening an individual with harm.  Threats may include, but are not necessarily limited, to the following:

  • Threat of physical harm
    • Threat of damage to property
    • Threat of defamation of character
    • Threat of bringing an accusation
    • Threat of turning in a criminal
    • Threat of taking an identification document
    • And more

For example, if you threaten to turn in a thief unless they pay you a monthly bribe, then you could be found criminally liable for extortion and face significant penalties that include a period of imprisonment.

If you’ve been charged with extortion, the attorneys here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC can assist you.  We provide comprehensive white collar criminal defense representation to clients in Virginia, Maryland, and the Washington D.C. metro area.

An extortion charge can be frightening, and emotionally overwhelming given how high stakes the upcoming litigation will be, but it’s important to be optimistic and thorough in exploring your defense options.  There are a number of effective defenses to extortion.  Considering the following.

Lack of Intent

Extortion is an offense that requires intent.  If you can show that you did not form a specific intent to obtain money, services, benefits, and other things of value by virtue of threatening harm on the victim, then you will be able to avoid liability altogether.

Inadequate Evidence

In extortion cases, evidence is often scant.  To successfully impose criminal liability on an extortion defendant, the prosecution has to introduce sufficient evidence to establish that you actually made a threat, and that the victim reasonably believed that the threat was real and would cause them harm.  Given how difficult this is, you may be able to have the case dismissed for inadequate evidence.

Lack of Threatening Harm

What the victim (and prosecution) perceive to be a threat may not actually be one.  Your actions must be sufficiently “threatening” that the defendant is subjected to either violence, or to fear (such that they agree to the extortion arrangement).

If you can show that there was no actual threat, then you can avoid liability for extortion.

Unreasonable Belief in the Threat

You cannot be held responsible for extortion if the victim’s belief was not reasonable.  For example, if you jokingly tell a friend that they have to buy you dinner or you’ll tell others about their secrets, prosecutors cannot impose liability for extortion.  Given the context of the interaction, the victim could not have reasonably believed that the threat was real.

Contact Harvey & Binnall, PLLC to Secure Leading Criminal Defense Representation

Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC our team has decades of experience representing the interests of those who have been accused, charged, or prosecuted for purportedly committing a white collar criminal offense.  We defend clients against a variety of charges, including those that center around felony offenses such as extortion.

Unlike many other competing firms, we are willing and capable litigators who are unafraid to try a case to conclusion.  This relentless approach to litigation forces prosecutors to consider the possibility of a plea bargain (that is more favorable to your interests), as they are not necessarily likely to succeed should the case advance to trial.

Ready to learn more about your case and how you can minimize the risk of liability?  Call us at 703-888-1943 or send us a message through our online form to schedule a consultation with an experienced Alexandria white collar defense attorney at our firm.