What are the factors or elements for 518 PC Extortion?
Under Penal Code 518 PC, the California crime of extortion (also known as “blackmail”) occurs when you do any of the following:
- Use force or threats to compel another person to give you money or other property,
- Use force or threats to compel a public officer to perform an official act, or
- If you are a public official, act under color of your official right to compel another person to give you money or other property.
This may sound fairly complicated. And, in fact, California extortion charges can be brought in a wide variety of scenarios. Just a few examples of behavior that could be considered extortion/blackmail under California law include:
- A man armed with a knife breaks into a home and threatens to kill the home’s owner if she doesn’t open a safe that contains large amounts of cash and expensive jewelry;
- A real estate developer threatens to expose a city council member’s extramarital affair to the media if the city council member does not vote to approve a project that the developer wants to build; and
- An adult daughter with a drug problem threatens to accuse her father of molesting her and have him arrested if he does not give her money to buy drugs.
Politicians, celebrities, and sports stars are frequent targets of extortion. For example, one well-known former basketball player and current basketball coach was involved in a prominent California extortion case , in which a former stripper threatened to release nude photos of the married athlete unless he paid her thousands of dollars.