A person who acts under a claim of right (an honest belief that he or she has a right to the money or property taken) may allege this factor as an AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE to an extortion charge. What constitutes a valid claim of right defense may vary from one jurisdiction to another. For example, M, a department store manager, accuses C, a customer, of stealing certain merchandise. M threatens to have C arrested for LARCENY unless C compensates M for the full value of the item. In some jurisdictions it is only necessary for M to prove that he or she had an honest belief that C took the merchandise in order for M to avoid an extortion conviction. Other jurisdictions apply a stricter test, under which M's belief must be based upon circumstances that would cause a reasonable person to believe that C took the item. Another, more stringent, test requires that C in fact owe the money to M. Finally, some states entirely reject the claim of right defense on the theory that M's threat is an improper means of collecting a debt.
Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationFree Legal Encyclopedia: Ex proprio motu (ex mero motu) to FileExtortion - Elements Of Offense, Extortion By Public Officers, Other Crimes Distinguished, Defenses, Further Readings - Punishment, Federal Offenses