Extortion, also known as blackmail, describes a threat made in order to take another person's money or property, or to compel another person to act or not act. The threat must be sufficient to overcome the victim's free will. Sound a bit like robbery? Perhaps this is because Florida’s extortion laws and robbery have some similarities, but to be sure, they are distinct crimes. In Florida, robbery requires an immediate threat of physical harm at the time when the perpetrator takes the property, while extortion simply requires a threat at any time. A Florida state prosecutor must establish all elements of the crime of extortion beyond a reasonable doubt in order to get a conviction.
Florida Extortion Laws: The Basics
Specific details about Florida extortion laws, including relevant statutes, possible defenses, and more are listed in the following table. Remember if you are charged with a crime, you should always consider speaking with an attorney before entering a plea or admitting guilt.
Elements of Extortion
Threat: The prosecutor must prove that the defendant made a verbal or written threat. The threat might imply physical harm death, or even psychological harm to the recipient of the threat, to another person, or to property, if the victim does not comply. Alternatively, the defendant might threaten to reveal a secret, accuse the victim of a crime, or otherwise harm the threatened person's reputation. Under Florida law, the defendant may threaten to do either an unlawful or lawful act. Extortion can include the threat of a legal act, as long as the prosecutor can show that the defendant acted maliciously.
Intent: The prosecutor must show that the defendant had intent to gain financially, receive property, or otherwise compel the victim to do any act against the victim's will. However, Florida law does not require an intent to actually carry out the threat or an ability to perform the threatened act.
- Threat made in self-defense, defense of another person, or defense of property
- Idle threat: The threat was never intended to actually reach the intended person or made in jest may be considered an idle threat.
|Florida state laws distinguish between extortion by a public officer and extortion by a private person. If a public officer committed extortion, the offense requires the officer to actually take money or gain financially from the threat. Public officers include
- police/peace officers
- lawyers with state-issued licenses
- court clerks
- other state officials
- Second degree felony
- Up to 15 years in prison
- Up to 15 years of probation.
- Up to $10,000 fine
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.
Florida Extortion Laws: Related Resources
Charged Under Florida Extortion Laws? Speak with an Attorney
There are scenarios where you may be able to beat an extortion charge brought against you by the state. The best way to increase your chances of beating an extortion charge is to contact a local criminal defense attorney, who will know Florida's extortion laws and help you present the best possible defense.