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Extortion - Elements Of Offense, Extortion By Public Officers, Other Crimes Distinguished, Defenses, Further Readings - Punishment, Federal Offenses

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The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear, or under color of official right.

Under the COMMON LAW, extortion is a misdemeanor consisting of an unlawful taking of money by a government officer. It is an oppressive misuse of the power with which the law clothes a public officer.

Most jurisdictions have statutes governing extortion that broaden the common-law definition. Under such statutes, any person who takes money or property from another by means of illegal compulsion may be guilty of the offense. When used in this sense, extortion is synonymous with blackmail, which is extortion by a private person. In addition, under some statutes a corporation may be liable for extortion.

Punishment

Extortion is generally punished by a fine or imprisonment, or both. When the offense is committed by a public officer, the penalty may include FORFEITURE of office. Under some statutes, the victim of an extortion may bring a civil action and recover pecuniary damages.

Federal Offenses

Extortion is also a federal offense when it interferes with interstate commerce. It is punishable by a fine, imprisonment, or both. Another federal statute makes it a crime to engage in extortionate credit transactions.

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