What is the Law on Extortion in Ohio and What are the Punishments for it?
Extortion is defined in Chapter 2905.11 of the Ohio Revised Code. It is a serious offense of the criminal nature with serious consequences. Ohio law treats extortion as a felony and the sentence for the accused is in accordance with the facts and circumstances surrounding the case, including the degree of threat and force involved, and the value of money or goods demanded by the extorted.
How Ohio Law Defines Extortion?
An individual is said to have committed the felony of extortion if the person does any of the following with an intention to obtain a valuable thing or benefit, or with an intention to persuade another individual to commit an unlawful act:
- Issue a threat to commit a felony;
- Issue a threat to commit an act of violence;
- Violate the Ohio Revised Code law for Aggravated Menacing and Menacing, defined in sections 2903.21 and 2903.22 respectively of the Code;
- Utter false and defamatory statements, or threaten a calumny against an individual;
- Threaten exposure of, or expose, any matter that is likely to subject an individual to ridicule hatred, contempt;
- Threaten exposure of, or expose, any matter that is likely to damage an individual’s business or personal reputation; or is likely to diminish an individual’s credit
The act of threatening mentioned in the legal definition of extortion includes the deeds of issuing a direct threat as well as a threat by innuendo.
Punishment for Extortion
An individual guilty of committing extortion is considered to have committed a felony of the third degree under Ohio law.
An individual, if convicted, faces a penalty that can include:
- A prison term of ranging from 9 months to 3 years plus a fine that does not exceed an amount of $10,000.
When proving extortion, threat, intention, the attempt to induce fear, and the type and the value of things that the accused demands are all valuable pieces of evidence. It is therefore important to share any piece of spoken or written threats with law enforcement agencies for efficient handling of the case.
Statute of Limitations for Extortion
Statute of Limitations refers to the time period within which an individual believed to have committed an act of extortion needs to be charged with the crime. If prosecutors fail to charge the individual within this period, they are not allowed under law to file charges later. If charged with a case after such period, the accused can have the charge dismissed.
The Statute of Limitations period for Extortion under the Ohio Revised Code is 6 years.
The Statute of Limitations does not apply under the following conditions:
- Evidence is still undiscovered
- The accused evades prosecution by either concealing identity or whereabouts, leaving the state, or other such actions
- There are pending case (s) of the same nature against the accused in the state
Consequences of Extortion
In addition to the penalty of imprisonment and/ or fines, a case history of extortion in an individual’s record has an adverse impact on the individual’s career, life, and education.
In Case You Are a Victim of Extortion
If you suspect being extorted, the first and the basic step to battle extortion would be to involve the local police. Complying with the extortioner’s demands may seem a simpler and safer solution, but is seldom effective. Compliance is more likely to lead to more demands.
Obtain legal help, usually from a family or personal lawyer, immediately. They are bound by the lawyer-client confidentiality law, which means you can be sure that the extortion demand is not going to be publicized. A lawyer can guide you in making a legally sound decision.
It is always better to follow the directions of the law enforcement agencies once they gain control of your case. As trained professionals with in-depth experience in extortion cases, they are well-positioned to guide you.