Sec 518 of the California Penal Code criminalizes the act of obtaining property, benefit or official act from another individual through the use of force of fear. The following are the four types of threats undertaken under this criminal offense:

1) The threat to injure a person or their property;
2) The threat to accuse the target individual or their relatives of the commission of a crime;
3) The threat to connect the target individual or their relatives with disgrace, deformity or a criminal offense;
4) The threat to reveal a secret that would affect the target individual or their relatives;

While there are some instances that a threat could be legal, when one receives benefit in any form as a requirement in not pushing through with the threat, then the crime is committed. The purpose is to protect against self-help in force or fear, thus there is no claim of rightness or good faith when this crime is charged to an individual.

In order to be convicted of this crime, the following elements need to be proven, which are as follows:

1) The accused obtained property or official act from another person;
2) The property or benefit or official act was obtained with the consent of the victim;
3) The consent was induced through the use of force, fear or intimidation;
4) The accused wrongfully used force or fear with the specific intent to induce the person to give consent as to the act being required;

This crime is charged as a felony offense and the imposable penalty includes two to four years in state prison and payment of a fine up to $10,000. When the victim is a dependant person or a person who has a physical or mental impairment that restricts their daily activities, then this fact would be considered as an aggravating circumstance.

The crime of extortion and blackmail is a serious offense in California. Should you be or know anyone facing any of these charges, do reach out to the lawyers at the Law Offices of Ramiro J. Lluis for a free consultation today.