What Is the Law on Extortion in Virginia and What Are the Punishments for It?
The Act of Extortion is a white-collar crime in which blackmailer forces another person, their victim, to behave in a manner they normally would not, or to give up material wealth to the former. This is usually done under threats of violence, physical coercion, property damage, or societal harm to the victim's reputation.
Extortion shares certain characteristics with robbery in which the perpetrators take material possession unlawfully from the victims. However, the difference in extortion is that even though there are threats, they are not immediate and can be carried out later.
Class 5 Felony
Extortion comes under the ambit of 'Felony' in Virginia. This means that these crimes are taken very seriously in the state and have serious hold to fully damage a person's life and become a permanent stain on their criminal record. The different kinds of extortion that the state of Virginia recognizes include the following:
- Threatening to cause harm to another person either materially or socially, by causing them to either lose out on their tangible or intangible property or on their reputation.
- Threatening to falsely accuse another person of a crime that they did not commit, if they do not carry out the bidding of the blackmailer.
- Threatening to turn over an illegal refugee to the proper authorities, if they do not do the bidding of the blackmailer.
- Purposely snatching a person's passport, immigration documentation, or any other such government identification, and not returning it unless the individual does the blackmailer's bidding.
The main reason why a person resorts to blackmail includes the following reasons:
- Some sort of monetary value that can be achieved from the victim.
- The blackmailer would get a material gain from the entire process, including some property, such as real estate or a plot of land.
- The victim may be indebted to the blackmailer in some way, and the latter is trying out nefarious means to settle the debt.
The blackmailer would gain some other benefit from the entire process, whether it be visual or non- financial, including getting a promotion or a better job, getting rid of or planting fake evidence in a court case, or having a case against them being suspended indefinitely.
Punishment for Extortion
Being a Class 5 Felony in the state of Virginia, extortion carries with itself a serious charge. This stays on the individual's record-long after they have been released and seriously affects their standing of finding a new job.
Depending on the severity of the crime, the people involved, and the contesting material or non- material gain, punishments for extortion can include the following:
- When a simple extortion case has been carried out, the punishment for the crime includes a maximum of one year in prison, a fine of $2500 or both, depending on the crime.
- When the extortion has been more elaborate and well- thought out in its execution, then the case becomes classified as a Class 5 Felony, and is then punishable by a minimum of a year in prison and a maximum of 10 years, depending on the severity of the crime, the damage that was caused to the victim, the extent of the extortion, and whether the threat was actually carried out.
Defenses for Extortion
There are several defenses that an individual can make if they have been committed of extortion in the state of Virginia. These include the following:
- When the person had no other option but to resort to extortion.
- The person did not know all the facts of the situation.
- The person was intoxicated or incapacitated in some way.