Extortion in Texas is a type of theft charge. Defined simply, extortion consists of trying to get money or property from someone by using force, threats of violence, property damage, or another illegal act. Blackmail is a type of extortion, as is kidnapping someone or threatening to abduct them.
At Tad Nelson & Associates, we have deep experience defending against theft charges, including extortion. Contact us to speak with a League City criminal defense lawyer about the charges you face.
It is against the law to appropriate someone’s property unlawfully with the intent to deprive them of it. Further, your appropriation is unlawful if done without the owner’s consent. Under Texas Penal Code Section 31.01, consent cannot be effective if it was induced by coercion or deception, which can include threats of violence.
Here are some common examples of extortion:
- Threatening to burn someone’s house down if they don’t give you money.
- Demanding payment so you don’t kidnap someone’s child.
- Stealing private business info and threatening to make it public unless the business pays you.
- Threatening to publish revenge porn if your ex doesn’t give you money or property.
The key is whether you used coercion to appropriate the property. Coercion can sometimes consist of only threats, not actual violence.
As with other theft crimes, the penalties you face depend on the amount you extort. If you extorted less than $100, you would face Class C misdemeanor charges, which is punished with only a fine.
However, felony charges are possible depending on the amount you extort. For example, it is a state jail felony to extort at least $2,500 but less than $30,000. You can also face state jail felony if you steal a firearm or have been convicted at least twice of any theft offense. A state jail felony can send you to jail for up to 2 years.
The more valuable the property, the stiffer the charges. Extortion can qualify as a first-degree felony where you took money or property valued at $300,000 or more.
Extortion is Hard to Prove
One reason prosecutors struggle with these cases is they might not have proof of the threat. Easy cases are those where you sent an email or text message. But words spoken in person are difficult to prove. We have had success claiming that you made no threat and the owner effectively consented to your taking the property.
The state also must prove you intended to permanently deprive the owner of the property. That requires judging your intent, which might prove challenging in the absence of an admission.
Call Tad Nelson for Legal Defense
Many extortion cases are the results of clumsy threats made during an argument, with people having different interpretations of what was said. Our team of League City criminal defense lawyers will analyze whatever evidence the state has against you and see if we can poke holes in it. Contact us today to set up an initial consultation. We are available to meet anywhere.