The general definition of extortion is a theft crime wherein the property is wrongfully obtained via:
- Oral threats
- Written threats
- False claims
To be found guilty of extortion, a person generally must:
- Threaten to commit a crime against the victim or one of their family members with the intent to extort money or gain a pecuniary advantage
- Use force or the threat of force to cause a public official or an officer to do something that would result in a benefit, typically of a financial nature, for the perpetrator
In Georgia, a person is guilty of extortion, known as theft by extortion under Georgia law, when they unlawfully obtain any property from another individual by threatening to:
- Accuse them of a criminal offense
- Distribute any information regarding the victim that will cause them to be subjected to ridicule, contempt, hatred, or harm their credit or business reputation
- Inflict bodily harm on them
- Commit another crime against them
- Withhold action or take action as a public official or cause a public official to take or withhold action
- Cause or continue a boycott, strike, or collective unofficial action if the property that the perpetrator intends to obtain is not for the benefit of the group
- Testify, not testify, or withhold information important to another person’s legal claim or defense
In Georgia, an affirmative defense available to someone accused of theft by extortion is if the property was validly claimed as a form of restitution or indemnification for harm that the accused person suffered related to their actions, such as threatening the alleged victim with legal action unless monetary compensation is provided because the alleged victim caused them to suffer a personal injury. A person may also use the fact that they are obtaining the property as compensation for property or lawful services as an affirmative defense, as well. Other common defenses for the crime of theft by extortion include:
- Lack of evidence
Keep in mind that each extortion case is different. Thus, a person may have more defenses available to them for their case than listed here.
The criminal punishment for theft by extortion in Georgia is one to 10 years in prison.
Yes. It is imperative you have a Georgia lawyer to represent you in your criminal case. Talk to a lawyer immediately about your legal rights and available defenses.