In New York, the crime of extortion or blackmail is typically referred to as coercion, and can be identified within the New York penal code as an offense against a person that includes some form of physical injury, sexual conduct, threat, restraint, or intimidation.
Charges or blackmail or extortion can be made in New York when a person uses threats or force to push someone into committing an act, or offering up money and assets against their will. There are a wide range of different circumstances that can be used to describe extortion. For example, if an individual was to break into a car or home and threaten the owner’s life with a gun or knife if that person was not willing to hand over money or property, that could be an act of extortion. At the same time, if children threaten to tell law officials certain individuals molested them if they do not give them something of value, this can also be defined as an act of extortion or blackmail.
Laws and Penalties
Blackmail and extortion are very serious crimes in the state of New York, but it can be very difficult for courts to show that extortion or blackmail actually took place when a complaint is made. The reason for this is that for a conviction of extortion or blackmail to be successful, the prosecuting party needs to prove that the accused had the intent, or indeed did use force or threat as a way of obtaining the money, property, or consent that they required.
It’s also worth noting that the prosecutor in a New York blackmail or extortion case must also show that the victims of the extortion only gave consent, money, or property because of their fear after a threat was given or force was used. Importantly, if the victims in question were pushed to offer up money and assets for a variety of reasons, and only one of those reasons was the presence of extortion or blackmail, then the accused cannot be convicted with a great deal of success. Most of the time, cases of blackmail or extortion involve very specific threats to people that push them to take action in some way. These threats may include:
- The threat to reveal information or secrets about the victim
- The threat to accuse the victim of a crime that he or she did not commit
- The threat to cause damage or injury to the victim
What’s more, all of these threats can also extend to people that the victim cares about, such as a friend or family member, or people that the victim would be expected to feel responsible for.
In New York, first-degree extortion or blackmail is seen as a class D felony which can be punishable by up to seven years in prison and a fine that is either $5,000 or double the amount the perpetrator gained by doing the crime in the first place. Second-degree extortion, on the other hand is only a class A misdemeanor, which is generally punished by a fine of up to $1,000 and the potential for one year in prison.
It’s important to note that in addition to the general imprisonment penalties and fines that are given to people convicted of blackmail or extortion in New York, these crimes may also be compounded by added charges such as extortion, racketeering, and kidnapping. Judges will also consider whether the case under scrutiny is an example of an organized crime activity.
Extortion and Blackmail Defenses
In New York, charges of blackmail or extortion may be difficult to defend against. In many circumstances, defendants discover that even when they have been proven innocent, they struggle to live normal lives because of the damage that has been done to their reputation. However, defenses may include:
- Lack of intent: An argument that you did not mean to threaten or coerce a person into giving property or money
- Lack of threat: An argument that the so-called victims gave you money or property of their own free will and not as a result of force.
- False accusation or insufficient evidence – An argument that there is not enough evidence to convict you of the crime, or that you were falsely accused of the crime that you actually had nothing to do with.
Statute of Limitations
In New York, as in many other states across America, the statute of limitations for extortion or blackmail will depend on whether the crime is classed as a felony or misdemeanor. The statute for a misdemeanor is two years, but for a felony it is five years.
New York Extortion/Blackmail Cases
- Former New York Senate Leader convicted of extortion
- Manhattan man’s cybersex sessions on Skype ends in extortion
- New York Democrat convicted of fraud and extortion
- New York Giants superfan charged with extortion
- Man arrested for attempting to extort $250,000 from Paula Deen