Answer: yes, you can go to jail for extortion. Whether or not an individual will be sentenced to jail for extortion will depend on the circumstances of the offense and the individual who committed the offense.
In the article that follows, we’ll explain.
Can You Go To Jail For Extortion? (Discussion)
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Introduction To Extortion
The elements of the crime of extortion can vary some from state to state, but the generally, the elements are:
- the defendant compels or causes someone else
- to do something to give the defendant (or a third party) something
- using fear as the inducement
- the fear could be of physical injury to the victim or someone else, property damage, false accusations, reports to the government, perjury, or damage to a business.
Extortion sounds a lot like the crime of coercion.
Coercion is generally charged when the defendant compels someone else to do something, while extortion usually involves the transfer of money or property under the threat of physical, business, personal, or financial harm.
But depending upon the state, the crimes could be potentially charged interchangeably.
In most states, the crime of extortion is considered a serious crime, and is usually listed as a felony with the possibility of serious jail time.
How Would Someone Get Sentenced To Jail For Extortion?
In all states, misdemeanor and felony crimes are all punishable by some level of jail time, though the maximum penalty varies from state to state.
While jail is a possibility in almost every misdemeanor and felony case, whether the defendant actually goes to jail is much more nuanced.
Offenders do not go to jail automatically for breaking the law every single time.
Instead, during sentencing process, many factors are considered, such as:
- how serious the crime was (felony or misdemeanor, as established by statute)
- how badly anyone was hurt
- how much property was damaged
- whether self-defense was involved
- what or who was threatened
- whether a weapon was involved
- whether the offender is prepared to pay for damages
- whether this is a first offense
- the most recent previous criminal conviction, and how many previous convictions there are
- whether the offender is remorseful
- whether jail will cause the offender to lose his job or place in school
- whether the offender is prepared to enter substance abuse treatment
- the mental and physical health of the defendant
The judge will make the decision as to whether jail is appropriate in the circumstances, or whether the offender would be better suited to performing community service or other service under the eye of the jail, such as trash clean up/road crew.
The parties (prosecutor and defense) may even negotiate a sentence that seems appropriate and jointly recommend it to the court for consideration.
In certain circumstances (in a few states), the laws establishing the offense do not allow the court to sentence an offender to probation, making jail a mandatory punishment.
If the offender had no previous criminal history, did not hurt anyone, did not exhibit extreme behavior, expresses remorse, and has support in the community, the defendant is less likely to receive a lengthy jail sentence.
If the offender has significant criminal history, exhibited extreme behavior (especially if vulnerable individuals were involved), and does not show any remorse or acceptance of responsibility, the defendant is more likely to receive a jail sentence.
In the end, a jail sentence really just depends on the jurisdiction, the judge, the facts of the case, and the circumstances of the defendant.
There’s no way to say for sure with any certainty what will or would happen without details.
If you have been charged with crimes, or you are worried that you will be, conferring with an attorney early on is recommended.
Even if you don’t think you’ll need a lawyer or be able to afford a retained lawyer in your case, early consultation with an experienced criminal defense lawyer in your state could prevent you from making your case worse and give you guidance about what to do next.
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