According to Georgia criminal laws, theft by extortion is an offense that occurs when a person:
- Unlawfully obtains property of or from another person by threatening to inflict bodily injury;
- Commits a criminal offense;
- Accuses someone of a criminal offense;
- Exposes or harms someone’s reputation;
- Takes or withholds official action; or
- Testifies or withholds information in an illegal matter.
A person convicted of theft by extortion can face one to ten years in prison.
Blackmail is a form of theft by extortion that involves threatening to expose or harm someone’s reputation or personal life unless they pay money or do something. Blackmail laws in Georgia do not separate blackmail from other types of theft by extortion in terms of penalties. Therefore, a person who commits blackmail can also be charged with theft by extortion and face the same punishment.
Are There Any Defenses to Theft by Extortion?
One possible defense to theft by extortion is an affirmative defense that the property obtained by threat was honestly claimed as restitution or indemnification for harm done in the circumstance to which the threat relates or as compensation for property or lawful services. For example, say a person threatens to sue another person for causing them a personal injury and demands money as a settlement. In that case, they may have an affirmative defense if they can show that the money was a valid claim for their damages.
Other common defenses for the crime of theft by extortion include:
- Innocence: The accused person did not commit the crime or was not involved in it.
- Lack of evidence: The prosecution does not have enough proof to establish the elements of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
- Duress: The accused person was forced or coerced to commit the crime by someone else who threatened them with harm.
- Incapacity: The accused person was not mentally or physically capable of forming the intent to commit the crime or understanding the consequences of their actions.
- Mistake: The accused person acted under a mistaken belief that negates their criminal intent or culpability.
Scenario: John is accused of extortion. The accusation states that he threatened to reveal compromising photos of a colleague unless they transferred money to his account. However, John can prove he was at a family gathering out of town at the time of the alleged extortion attempt. He also provides bank records showing no such deposit into his account. In this scenario, John’s defense is that he is innocent and didn’t commit the crime he’s accused of.
Lack of Evidence
Scenario: Sarah is accused of threatening her neighbor into giving her his antique watch. The neighbor claims Sarah threatened to vandalize his property unless he gave her the watch. However, there are no witnesses, no recordings of the threats, and no evidence of Sarah ever possessing the watch. Sarah’s defense is that there is a lack of evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that she committed the crime of theft by extortion.
Scenario: Peter is accused of extorting money from a local business owner. The business owner alleges that Peter threatened to set his store on fire unless he paid him. However, Peter claims that he was threatened by a criminal gang and was forced to make the extortion attempt on their behalf, or they would harm his family. His defense is that he was under duress when he committed the crime.
Scenario: Emily, a woman suffering from severe schizophrenia, is accused of attempting to extort her doctor by threatening to reveal confidential patient information unless he paid her. However, her lawyer argues that due to her mental illness, Emily was not capable of forming the intent to commit the crime or understanding the consequences of her actions. In this scenario, Emily’s defense is that she was incapacitated.
Scenario: Dave is accused of theft by extortion. He’s alleged to have told a friend that he would report his friend’s tax evasion to the authorities unless his friend paid him. Dave, however, thought he was joking with his friend, as they often bantered about their personal matters. His defense is that he made a mistake in believing that his comments would be taken as a joke and not as an extortion attempt.
What Is the Punishment for a Theft by Extortion Conviction in Georgia?
The criminal punishment for theft by extortion conviction in Georgia is one to ten years in prison. This is a felony offense that can have serious consequences for the person’s criminal record, employment, and civil rights.
Restitution or indemnification may be ordered by the court as part of the sentence, depending on the circumstances of the case and the harm caused to the victim. Restitution is the payment of money or property to the victim to compensate them for their losses or damages. Indemnification is the payment of money or property to a third party who suffered losses or damages because of the crime.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Represent Me in My Extortion Case?
Are you facing an extortion charge? It’s crucial to understand the seriousness of this crime and the potential repercussions if you are found guilty. Penalties can include significant fines, incarceration, and a criminal record that may negatively impact your future personal and professional life. An extortion charge is not something to take lightly or handle on your own.
That’s why you need a seasoned, experienced lawyer to represent you in your case. A skilled criminal defense attorney can review your case, advise you on your legal rights, and develop a robust defense strategy. They can negotiate with prosecutors on your behalf, argue for the reduction or dismissal of charges, and, if necessary, defend you in court.
LegalMatch makes finding the right Georgia criminal lawyer straightforward and stress-free. Our service connects you with local, pre-screened attorneys who have the experience, knowledge, and skills to represent you effectively. Simply explain your case through our platform, and you’ll receive proposals from interested criminal defense lawyers, often within a few hours.
LegalMatch ensures you have access to attorneys who are up-to-date with Georgia’s criminal laws, case precedents, and legal landscape. This local experience can prove invaluable when fighting an extortion case. Our attorneys can provide guidance on all aspects of Georgia’s judicial process, giving you the best possible chance at a positive result.
A lawyer can help determine which defenses are applicable to your case, whether it’s proving your innocence, highlighting a lack of evidence, arguing that you were under duress, or demonstrating incapacity or a mistake. Each case is unique, and a seasoned criminal defense attorney can provide a tailored defense that best suits your situation.
Don’t leave your future to chance. The right lawyer can be a critical factor in obtaining a favorable outcome for your extortion case. With LegalMatch, you have the opportunity to review the credentials, rates, and reviews of several lawyers, helping you make an informed decision about who should represent you.
The process is simple. Submit your case details confidentially on our secure platform and get matched with the right attorney for your case without any obligation. Let LegalMatch help you navigate the legal maze and find the best attorney who can give you the representation you need and deserve.