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Tampa Attorney for Extortion Charges

If you are under investigation for extortion under either state or federal law then contact a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, Hillsborough County, FL. Never speak to a law enforcement officer about criminal allegations for extortion until after you have spoken with an experienced criminal defense lawyer.

Many claims of extortion occur in the work place and are considered white collar crimes. Whether your case is being investigated at the State or Federal Level, the attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are ready to help you fight the allegations.

Call us today at 813-250-0500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation.

Definition of "Extortion"

The term extortion is generally defined as a criminal offense involving the use of threats, coercion, or intimidation to obtain money (or other things of value such as goods or services).  In these cases, extortion includes an element that the victim was intimidated into providing money or other things of value because of a threat of possible violence, force, or harm.

The definition of extortion crimes under either state or federal law often involve a shakedown, extraction, bribery, blackmail, public corruption or demands for ransom.

Extortion under Florida Law

Extortion crimes prosecuted under Florida law are classified as a second degree felony under Florida Statute Section 836.05 punishable by up to 15 years in Florida State Prison.

The offense of extortion includes four (or five) elements including:

  • The Defendant made a verbal, printed or written communication to another person.
  • In that communication, the defendant threatened to:
    • accuse another person of any offense or crime;
    • injure another person;
    • injure the property or reputation of another person;
    • expose another person to disgrace;
    • expose any secret affecting another person; or
    • impute any deformity or lack of chastity to another person.
  • The Defendant’s threat was made maliciously.
  • The Defendant’s threat was made with the intent to:
    • extort money or any pecuniary advantage whatsoever from another person;
    • compel another person to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will.

If the threat was made to a third party, then the prosecutor with the State of Florida must also prove a fifth element:

  • At the time the Defendant made the threat, the Defendant intended that the threat be communicated to the person who was extorted or compelled.

Proving the Extortion Threat Was Made Malicious

Under Florida law, the term “maliciously” generally requires actual malice or legal malice. The term “maliciously” is usually defined as intentionally and without any lawful justification. See Calamia v. State, 125 So. 3d 1007 (Fla. 5th DCA 2013). Alternatively, “maliciously” can be defined as ill will, hatred, spite, or an evil intent. Id.

In Alonso v. State, 447 So.2d 1029, 1030 (Fla. 4th DCA 1984), the Fourth District Court of Appeal provided: ?“[Actual malice] is not contemplated by the crime of extortion. The basic statutory ingredients are a threat made maliciously with the intent to require another to perform an act against his will. The malice requirement is satisfied if the threat is made “willfully and purposely to the prejudice and injury of another....” Black's Law Dictionary, 4th Ed…. A threat is malicious if it is made intentionally and without any lawful justification. Coupled with the requisite intent it constitutes the crime of extortion.”??

Additionally, Courts have found that the extortion statute prohibits only those utterances or communications which constitute malicious threats to do injury to another's person, reputation, or property. Furthermore, the threats must be made with the intent to extort money or the intent to compel another to act or refrain from acting against his will. See Id. (citing Carricarte v. State, 384 So.2d 1261 (Fla.1980)).

Standard Jury instructions for Extortion in Florida

The standard jury instructions for extortion were adopted in 2014. The standard jury instructions for extortion provide that it is not necessary for the State of Florida to prove the actual intent to do harm nor the ability to carry out the threat. The statute prohibits both threats to cause mental or psychological damage. See Duan v. State, 970 So. 2d 903 (Fla. 1st DCA 2007).

The crime of extortion does not have any lesser-included offenses. Additionally, “attempted” extortion is not a crime. Achin v. State, 436 So. 2d 30 (Fla. 1982).

Extortion under Federal Law

Extortion crimes under Federal Law are set out in Chapter 41 of the United States Code. Many extortion cases under Federal Law are prosecuted as part of a larger RICO case involving organized crime. The crime is commonly linked with wire fraud or mail fraud claims.

Extortion crimes can be prosecuted in Federal Court when the case involves an allegation that the defendant conveyed though interstate or foreign commerce a transmission or communication in furtherance of an extortion plot under 18 USC 875(b).

Other types of extortion charges under Federal Law include an allegation under 18 USC 872. Under this type of extortion charge an employee or officer of the United States Government or one who poses as such can commit extortion and be sentenced to up to one year in prison. If the extortion involves an amount of more than $1,000 then the sentence can be up to three years in prison.

Under 18 USC 873 the federal crime of blackmail can be alleged if one one threatens to inform the authorities of a violation of United States Code in exchange for receiving something of value (or as consideration for not informing the authorities of any violation of United States Code receives something of value.)

Finding an Extortion Attorney in Tampa, FL

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are familiar with the defense of extortion laws under both state and federal law. Call us to discuss your case and the best defense against these types of charges. Never speak with a state or federal law enforcement officer until after you have discussed the allegations with a criminal defense attorney. Anything you say can be used against you to prove one or more elements of the offense. Your criminal defense attorney is often in the best position to tell your side of the story to law enforcement.

Call an attorney at the Sammis Law Firm today at 813-250-0500. Schedule a consultation to discuss the facts of your case and the best possible defense.