Extortion is what most people would think of as blackmail or coercion. Extortion is commonly prosecuted at the federal level, but can also be pursued by local prosecutors in the State of Texas. While extortion and robbery can both involve taking something of value by threat, a robbery involves an imminent threat where extortion involves the threat of some future harm.
Extortion in Texas is a felony offense. If you are accused of obtaining money or something of value through threats of violence, destruction of property or other acts of coercion, you will need aggressive legal assistance from a Fort Worth extortion lawyer. This is not a situation you should try to handle on your own.
Any statement you make in the absence of qualified lawyer could jeopardize the outcome of your case. Our criminal defense attorneys will review the charges you are facing and evaluate the prosecution’s case against you to determine the best strategy for defense.
Possible Defenses to Extortion Charges
Extortion charges in Fort Worth are defending by challenging the State’s evidence and putting the state to the test exposing any weakness in the State’s case and their ability to prove the case against you beyond a reasonable doubt.
The burden of proof applies to each element of the offense, including coercion. The prosecution can also be countered with a showing of insufficient evidence, being falsely accused, as well as a lack of threat, fear or force.
Penalties for Using Coercion for Personal Gain
Texas’s theft law is an overarching statute that encompasses a wide range of potential offenses, including extortion (see Texas Penal Code Sections 31.02 and 31.03). Extortion occurs when someone uses coercion, threatens to injure someone’s reputation, physical person, or property, or threatens to perpetrate illegal deeds against the government to acquire payment or property. Extortion can be either face-to-face or through other modes of correspondence, including over the internet.
The punishment for an extortion conviction depends on the value of the money or property involved. The greater the value of the goods extorted, the harsher the penalty.
An extortion charge can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The mildest extortion charge is categorized as a Class C misdemeanor when the value of the goods involved is below $100. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum $500 fine.
If the value of the goods extorted is between $2,500 and below $30,000, the offense is a state jail felony, punishable by six months to two years in a state jail facility and a maximum $10,000 fine.
If the value of the goods meets or exceeds $300,000, the crime is classified as a first-degree felony, punishable by up to life in prison and a maximum $10,000 fine.
There are certain circumstances in which the value of the extorted items may not be the sole determining factor of the category of crime. Texas’s theft statute states that if the accused was a “public servant” when they committed the crime and received the goods because of their official capacity, their punishment will be elevated one level.
For instance, if the value of the property obtained by extortion would normally be a Class A misdemeanor, but the accused was a public official and obtained the benefit on account of their official position, they could instead be charged with a state jail felony. Our Fort Worth attorneys can examine your extortion charge to help you better understand the laws governing the various outcomes for your case.
Ask a Fort Worth Extortion Attorney for More Information
A Fort Worth extortion lawyer can provide you with more information about fighting your charges and building the strongest defense possible. Our team of attorneys can explore any flaws or weaknesses in the prosecution’s case against you and work to achieve a positive conclusion. To arrange your free legal consultation with an experienced attorney, give our office a call today.