What is the Law on Extortion in Montana and What are the Punishments for it?
Chapter 5 (Offenses Against the Person) of the updated Montana Code defines Intimidation and Malicious Intimidation or Harassment under Part 2 – Assault and Related Offenses. Montana Law also defines extortion under the category Crimes Against Property.
Let us examine what the Montana law says about extortion in each case.
Under section 45-5-203, an individual is guilty of having committed the act of Intimidation if the following conditions are satisfied:
- The individual acts with a deliberate intention to cause another individual to carry out, or omit to carry out, any act, by communicating a threat to the other individual under a set of circumstances that reasonably induce a fear in the other individual that the threat would be carried out.
A threat, in the above case, can include any communication to commit any of the following acts without lawful authority:
o Physical harm either to the individual being threatened or to any other individual;
o Confinement or restraint of the individual being threatened or another individual;
o Commission of a felony.
- An individual commits an offense of intimidation if the individual, on purpose, issues a threat or an untrue report of any of the following:
o An explosion
o Pending fire
o A disaster serious enough to cause harm to property or life
Malicious Intimidation or Harassment
Section 45-5-221 of the updated Montana Code defines Malicious Intimidation or Harassment Relating to Civil or Human Rights. Any threat of a malicious nature is also included in this definition.
According to this section, an individual is said to have committed an offense of Malicious Intimidation or Harassment if the following are true:
- The individual performs any of the following acts on purpose with an intention to intimidate, threaten, terrify, offend, annoy or harass, another individual because of the latter’s creed, religion, race, color, nation of origin, or due to the involvement of the latter in activities related to human rights or civil rights:
o Inflicts physical injury on an individual;
o Induces reasonable fear or anxiety of bodily injury in another individual;
o Indulges in an act of damage, defacement, or destruction of another individual’s property, or of public property;
Defacement is the above definition includes, but is not limited to, the following acts:
- Cross Burning of the property of another individual without the latter’s permission. Cross Burning involves the burning of a large cross made of wood, publicly with an intention to intimidate; or
- Placement of any symbol or word that is commonly associated with an identity or activity of a race, religion or ethnicity, on the property of another individual without the individual’s permission.
Montana Crime Categories include Extortion or Blackmail under the Crime Against Property section. According to this definition, an individual is guilty of Extortion or Blackmail if:
- The individual unlawfully obtains property, money, or any other thing of tangible or intangible value, through any of the following acts:
o Use of, or a threat to use, force;
o Misuse of authority;
o A threat of criminal prosecution;
o A threat to destruct an individual’s social standing
o Use of other coercive means
Punishments for Intimidation and Malicious Intimidation or Harassment
If it is proved in the court of law that an individual has committed an offense of intimidation, then the individual can face the following sentence:
- Imprisonment in the state prison for a term of up to 10 years; or/ and
- A fine of up to $50,000
An individual proven guilty of the crime of Malicious Intimidation or Harassment can be subject to the following sentence:
- State imprisonment for a period not exceeding 5 years; or/ and
- A fine of an amount not exceeding $5, 000