Defined by Section 135.60-65 of New York’s Penal Law, coercion involves the compelling or inducing of a person to engage in conduct that the person has a legal right to abstain from engaging in, or compelling or inducing of a person to abstain from engaging in conduct in which the person has a legal right to engage, by means of instilling fear that, if the demand is not met, the person engaging in the coercive conduct will, for example, cause physical injury to the person or property of another.
Extortion, a form of larceny defined by Section 155.05 of New York’s Penal Law, involves the taking of property from another person by instilling fear that, if the property is not surrendered, the person engaging in extortionate conduct will, for example, cause physical injury to the person or property of another, engage in other conduct constituting a crime, accuse another person of a crime, cause criminal charges to be filed against another person or expose a secret or publicizing a fact that, whether true or false, would tend to expose such person to hatred, contempt or ridicule.
There are several defenses to charges of coercion and extortion in New York.
For example, in a case involving an extortion charge it is a full and complete defense if you believed that the alleged victim committed a wrongful act and your sole purpose was to get that person to correct that wrongful act. For example, if you believed that an alleged victim stole money from an employer and then threatened to report that theft to the police and/or the person’s employer, your “threat” is justified and you should not be found guilty of extortion because the purpose of making the threat was to induce the victim to correct wrongful conduct.
This defense can be raised even if the purported victim did not commit the acts that you believed they did, as long as your belief was reasonable. The same applies to charges of coercion: it is a full and complete defense that the threatened charge was true and that the purpose of the “threat” was to compel another person to make good on a wrong that was the subject of the threatened charge.
Other common defenses to extortion and coercion include:
The bottom line is that the best defense to any charge of extortion or coercion will depend on the individual facts and circumstances in your case. A careful review of all relevant evidence by an experienced attorney, therefore, is critical to any evaluation as to your best defense. Indeed, extortion and coercion cases often turn on the alleged victim’s credibility. Jurors evaluating such charges don’t like accusers whose truthfulness is questionable.
Don't let a coercion or an extortion charge derail your future. Attorney Harlan Protass has the experience necessary to defend against serious criminal charges like extortion and coercion. He understands that your freedom and reputation are on the line, and will work hard to avoid the filing of charges against you or, if you are arrested or indicted, will fight for your acquittal or to minimize the penal consequences to which you might be exposed.
If you are ever accused of extortion or coercion, your first phone call should be to an experienced extortion/coercion defense lawyer. To schedule a free and confidential consultation of your case, contact Protass Law PLLC today at 212.455.0335.