Charlotte Extortion Defense Lawyers

In North Carolina, the crime of extortion is serious. Extortion involves taking another person's property by threat or coercion. North Carolina treats blackmail or extortion as a serious crime. Defendants convicted of extortion or blackmail face many months or even years in prison. If you or a loved one is facing a blackmail or extortion charge, our law firm can help.

The experienced defense lawyers at Arnold & Smith, PLLC can help you determine the best legal defense. We evaluate our clients' cases and all available evidence to determine the best legal strategy. Contact our experienced criminal defense lawyers as soon as possible to schedule your free case evaluation.

Extortion Charges in Charlotte, North Carolina

Extortion is a serious Class F felony in North Carolina. Class F felonies come with a punishment between 10 and 41 months, depending on whether or not the defendant has any other prior convictions. A defendant who does not have any prior convictions might receive less than the maximum prison time, depending on their record. The elements of extortion are as follows:

  • The defendant threatened the victim or communicated a threat to the victim
  • The defendant did so with the intent to obtain an acquittance, something of value, an advantage, or an immunity
  • The defendant intended to obtain something of value wrongfully, knowing that he was not entitled to obtain the thing of value in this manner.
The Difference Between Blackmail and Robbery

One example of extortion would be threatening to hurt someone if he or she doesn't give up property or money. Extortion often seems extremely similar to robbery. However, in a robbery, the threat of harm to the victim is immediate. When it comes to extortion, the threat is not immediate and it can involve a threat of property damage, violence, or damage to someone's reputation.

Facing Blackmail Charges in Charlotte, North Carolina

Many states do not have a blackmail statute, instead, the crime of blackmail falls under their extortion statute. North Carolina has a separate blackmail law. A defendant commits blackmail by doing one of two things:

  • Sending writing to another person that contains threats regarding the property, or
  • Sending another person writing which threatens to accuse a person of a crime "with the intent to extort or gain property from that person

The crime of blackmail is a Class 1 misdemeanor under North Carolina's extortion law. Those convicted of extortion in North Carolina face a prison sentence between one and 120 days. The length of the prison sentence depends on whether or not the defendant has any prior convictions. For example, defendants who have no prior convictions will not receive a prison sentence greater than 45 days and their sentence will be community punishment. However, if you have one or more prior convictions, you will receive an active prison sentence as punishment. Prosecutors must prove the following:

  • The defendant knowingly threatened or accused the victim of a crime
  • The defendant did so intending to gain something or extort some sort of money or property from the victim
More specifically, a prosecutor must prove all of the following elements:
  • The defendant knowingly sent writing to the victim
  • The writing demanded property of some sort from the victim
  • The writing contained threats of some sort
  • The defendant did not have probable cause or reason to believe that he or she was entitled to the property
The Differences Between Extortion and Blackmail

What is the difference between extortion and blackmail? In most cases, actions that count as blackmail also violate the extortion statute. The North Carolina Court of Appeals explained that the blackmail statute is essentially the same since 1854. The extortion statute was enacted in 1973. Due to the rules of construction, the newer extortion statute supersedes the blackmail statute. Thus, defendants are charged under the extortion statute, not the blackmail statute.

Defenses to Extortion in North Carolina

The best defenses to extortion in North Carolina involve arguing that the prosecution has not proved one of the elements of the crime. For example, the defendant might argue that he or she never knowingly sent a written threat to the victim. Or, the defendant can argue that the writing he or she sent did not contain any threats. In some cases, the defendant can argue that he or she had reason to believe that he or she had a right to the property.

Contact Us

If you have been charged with blackmail or extortion, our law firm can help. Contact Arnold & Smith, PLLC as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation.