Blackmail is the more common term for the crime of extortion. According to California law, a person can be charged with blackmail when they use force or threats to compel another person to provide money or property. The crime also extends to compelling a public official to perform an act, or to neglect an official act. If you or someone close to you is facing investigation or charges for blackmail, a lawyer can provide critical representation. Riverside blackmail defense lawyer Gregory H. Comings carefully investigates the facts surrounding each case, analyzing appropriate legal defenses and strategies for each client.Blackmail Criminal Charges and Penalties Set by California Law
In most cases of blackmail, the defendant retains damaging information about the victim, and threatens to reveal that information in order to coerce the victim into acting. California law provides that the defendant need not have forced or injured a person to be convicted, the prosecution must only show that they threatened to do so. As a specific intent crime, the defendant must have the desire to commit the crime, and the intent to achieve a specific result. A conviction can stand if the defendant did not injure the victim, or use force. However, they must have threatened to do so. The threat must remain the controlling reason the victim consented.
Blackmail is punishable under California or federal law. Elements of blackmail are included within the crime of extortion, set forth in California Penal Code Section 518. First, the prosecution must prove that the defendant threatened to commit unlawful injury or use force against the victim, or accuse them of a crime, or expose a secret. Second, the threat must have been made with the intent to force the victim to consent to give the money or property, or perform the official act. Finally, the prosecution must show that as a result of the threat, the victim did consent, and then actually gave the money or property, or performed the official act. Consent means coerced consent; because of the force or fear involved, the victim consented to part with their property. A blackmail defense attorney in Riverside can further explain these elements.
Sections 522 and 523 of the California Penal Code define two other forms of extortion, or blackmail. These include extortion of signature, and extortion by threatening letter. Additionally, attempted extortion or blackmail is a crime that occurs when someone commits an act that would be blackmail, or extortion, but was not completed.
Cyber blackmail refers to new types of blackmail associated with the growth of the internet. For example, blackmail is included as the threat of publishing online videos or pictures of a person, obtained privately for example, if the person does not pay money or provide more photographs or other property.
A conviction for blackmail can result in up to four years in county jail and a fine up to $10,000. Felony probation may be appropriate in some cases, under the discretion of the judge. This provides that the defendant can serve part of their sentence outside of jail.Assert a Legal Defense to Criminal Charges for Blackmail
A Riverside blackmail defense attorney may set forth various defense arguments, depending on the facts of the case. False accusations can be a valid defense if the accuser has mistaken the identity of the alleged perpetrator. A blackmail charge would have to be dismissed in this case, as otherwise an innocent person could be convicted.
Consent may be asserted if an attorney can prove that the alleged victim consented to provide the property, money, or to perform the official act. If this element of the crime is not met, a conviction cannot stand. Likewise, if there was no intent to blackmail the alleged victim, there cannot be a conviction. An attorney can also raise a defense if a police investigation or arrest violated the defendant’s constitutional rights, and they can explore other potential defenses.Discuss the Details of Your Case With a Lawyer in Riverside
Hiring an attorney of your choice is important. A dedicated advocate can help to ensure that all potential legal defenses are set forth. To learn more about how you can assert your rights, contact the Law Offices of Gregory H. Comings by calling (951) 686-3457 or reach us online. We offer a free consultation and assist people who need a blackmail defense lawyer in Riverside or elsewhere in the surrounding region.