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What is extortion?

Being accused of a crime does not mean that a defendant is aware of what the crime means and the severity of the penalties associated with it. The world of criminal law is complex, meaning the charges faced by some could be confusing. Therefore, it is not only important for individuals in Iowa and elsewhere to understand the alleged crime in general, but what evidence is used to prove the elements of the crime.

Take extortion for example. This crime occurs when a person does an act with the purpose of obtaining anything of value, tangible or intangible. This includes carrying out acts such as threatening to inflict physical injury, making a threat to accuse another individual of committing a public offense or the threat of exposure to contempt, hatred or ridicule.

It also includes conduct such as threatening to the professional reputation, credit or business of any individual, threatening to act as a public officer or convincing a public employee or official to do so by taking or withholding action, threatening to harm another's legal action by testifying or refusing to do so or threatening to commit a wrongful injury to another's property.

A clear defense to an extortion charge is available in certain circumstances and is outlined by section 711.4 of the Iowa code. This occurs when a threat is made and is not one to commit a public offense, and is made because the individual had reason to believe that the individual had the right to make that threat as a means to obtain compensation for services or property or recover property or debt for which he or she has a good faith claim.

Facing extortion allegations can be difficult. Even when evidence does not seem overwhelming, it could be enough for a conviction. Thus, defendants should take the time to understand the matter and how best to proceed with a criminal defense.

Source: Law.justia.com, "711.4 Extortion," accessed March 11, 2018

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