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District of Columbia Extortion Laws

While each jurisdiction has its own specific definition of extortion, it's generally defined as getting someone else's property through threats or false claims of right. Although extortion sounds similar to robbery, it's different because it doesn't involve an imminent threat of danger to the victim. Extortion is treated as a serious crime in most jurisdictions, including in the District of Columbia.

Comparing Extortion and Blackmail

Extortion and blackmail are very similar concepts. In fact, in the Code of the District of Columbia, blackmail is listed under the extortion subchapter, but D.C. does distinguish between these two crimes. Blackmail occurs if a person, intending to obtain the property of another person or force them to take or not take certain actions, threatens to:

  • Accuse any person of a crime;
  • Expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact (that's true or false) that would subject someone to contempt or ridicule; or
  • Impair the reputation of any person, including a person who is dead.

Blackmail is punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or fines as provided in Section 22-3571.01.

District of Columbia Extortion Laws: The Basics

Reading the actual language of the law is an important part of legal research, but it can involve sifting through text that requires some time to analyze and understand. For this reason, it can help to read a summary of the law written in everyday language first. In the following chart, you can find such an overview of District of Columbia extortion laws as well as links to relevant statutes.


District of Columbia Code, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 32, Subchapter VI, Section-22-3251 (Extortion)

Defining the Offense

A person commits extortion if they obtain or attempt to obtain someone else's property through consent that was:

  • Induced by force or threatened for or by threats of economic injury; or
  • Obtained under color or pretense of official right.

Extortion is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or fines set forth in Section 22-3571.01.

Related Statute(s)

District of Columbia Code, Title 22, Subtitle I, Chapter 7:

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

District of Columbia Extortion Laws: Related Resources

If you'd like additional information and resources related to this topic, you can visit the links listed below.

Charged with Violating D.C. Extortion Laws? Get Help From a Lawyer

Extortion is a serious crime in the District of Columbia and a conviction can lead to prison time and fines. But the prosecution is required to prove its case in order to convict a defendant of extortion. The best way to fight extortion charges is to enlist the help of a legal professional. So, if you've been charged with extortion, or any other crimes in D.C., it's in your best interest to speak with a local criminal defense attorney who can explain the charges and possible penalties and prepare your strongest defense.

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