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What is extortion?

It's no secret that the taking of property that belongs to another is a crime. Theft and burglary are typically the crimes related to property that first come to mind for most people. However, another fairly common crime related to illegally obtained property or money is extortion. Texas law treats extortion as a felony, and the consequences are severe.

Extortion is defined as the gaining of property through the threat of violence, harm to reputation, property damage or unfavorable government action. Extortion is different from theft in that it concerns threats of future actions while robbery involves an imminent physical danger. Extortion also includes blackmail, which is the threat of releasing damaging or embarrassing information about the victim to friends, family or the public. The blackmailer demands money or property in exchange for not releasing the damaging information.

Extortion is considered a felony in all 50 states. The crime doesn't have to take place in person. Extortion can occur over the phone, online or through text message. It can also be a federal crime if any method of interstate commerce is used to commit the crime.

An individual facing charges of extortion is in serious legal jeopardy. A conviction for extortion can include fines, public service and even incarceration. An attorney with experience in criminal defense law may be able to help an individual fight those charges. Lawyers can use their experience to review the evidence against their clients and advise them on their odds of being acquitted. An attorney can also negotiate a potential plea agreement while using his or her experience to keep any agreed sentence within the range of local norms. In cases where a plea deal isn't possible, a lawyer can take the case to trial in front of a jury.

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