Extortion charges in Arizona consist of the illegal reception of money, property or services from a victim in order to prevent the alleged extortionist from 1) inflicting harm upon the victim or 2) revealing secrets of the victim. The “Theft by Extortion” charge is listed under Arizona Revised Statutes (ARS) §13-1804. If you need a good Extortion Attorney, then turn to the professionals at DM Cantor.
Threat of Physical Harm
The primary way that the extortionist gains property is by threatening to inflict physical harm upon the victim. Under ARS §13-1804 (applicable to the Phoenix Metro area and everywhere else in the State of Arizona), Extortion is the threat to “cause physical injury to anyone by means of a deadly weapon” or to “cause damage to property.” These are very serious charges.
The punishment level of the charge is based on “how immediate” the threat was to the victim. With the electronic media and cell phones, some threats might be “implied” and “distant” without an actual weapon being physically displayed. Evidence must be gathered to prove this threat.
The more direct threat is when the two parties are “face-to-face.” Did the alleged extortionist have the weapon on his person? Did he brandish or display the weapon while making the threat to the victim.
The final action is the actual usage of the weapon against the victim. The penalty for each of these offenses increases based on how immediate the threat was to the victim.
Alleged Secret or Crime
The second way to extort money is by the threat to reveal a secret that will damage a person’s reputation. ARS §13-1804 states that Extortion can be an accusation that the victim committed a “crime” or might be the exposure of a “secret or an asserted fact,” to “subject anyone to hatred, contempt or ridicule or to impair the person’s credit or business.” It does not matter if the allegation was true or false.
The person who was charged with extortion must have attempted to cause “ridicule” upon the victim. It is more challenging to determine how an action will affect the reputation of an individual in certain circumstances. Other allegations are much more cut-and-dry.
Many times, extortion will involve information to be used against a famous celebrity, athlete, business leader or politician. According to ARS §13-1804, extortion can also involve a public servant who will “take or withhold action” based upon the threat. This adds another layer to the extortion charge since public servants must be objective in rendering the services of their position to citizens.
Penalties for Extortion
Penalties for Extortion will depend upon the circumstances of the individual case. For someone who is charged with extortion, the 1) threat of using a weapon, 2) display of weapon and 3) actual use of the weapon are important factors determining punishment.
If the Extortion was done over the phone without displaying a weapon the Class 4 first offense punishment could be anywhere from probation to about 3 years of incarceration.
Here is a range of potential punishments for a Class 2 non-dangerous felony of Extortion with the display of a deadly weapon:
1) First offense: from probation up to about 12 years of incarceration
2) Second offense: from about 4 years to 23 years of incarceration in prison
3) Third offense: from about 10 years to 35 years of incarceration in prison
If the Extortion involved the actual use of a deadly weapon, then the punishment is “prison only” with 7 years of incarceration being the minimum real possibility for the first offense.
What are Common Extortion Defenses?
Extortion charges in Arizona must prove many different points. Two common Extortion defenses are: 1) defendant had legal right to said property and 2) what was the basis of the alleged threat.
The legal claim over the property is a primary defense in which case the defendant will assert that he is owed that property due to legal services rendered. This defense involves proving the ownership of the property in question. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law.” A good lawyer will assert and show his client had legal right to said property.
Another common defense concerns whether there was an actual threat made. In society, there are many dramatic suggestions, words and phrases spoken. But did the defendant’s words actually constitute a real threat? A good attorney will fully develop this line of defense.
An Extortion charge with a weapon can carry many years of jail time. If you or a family member are charged with “Theft by Extortion,” you need a good lawyer for the best defense. At DM Cantor, your initial consultation is free, so call us at 602-307-0808. Our offices are available 24 hours a day by phone or by using our confidential email form.