In New York, there are two degrees for the crime of coercion (referred to as "extortion" in certain other states). The most basic form of the offense is second degree coercion, which occurs when a person compels another person to engage or refrain from engaging in lawful conduct by instilling a fear of:
- Physical injury;
- Damage to property;
- Other crimes against the victim;
- Criminal accusations against the victim or prosecution of charges against the victim;
- Exposing a secret about the victim subjecting him or her to "hatred, contempt or ridicule";
- A boycott or other collective action against the victim's business unless the action is for the benefit of the group's interest;
- Testimony against the victim;
- An official position being used to harm the victim;
- Any other act calculated to harm the victim's health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation or personal relationships.
First degree coercion is when a person, having committed second-degree coercion, actually instilled in the victim a fear of physical injury or property damage, or induced the victim to:
- Commit or attempt to commit a felony;
- Cause or attempt to cause physical injury to another person; or
- Violate his or her duty as a public servant.
Coercion is similar to but distinct from the crime of larceny by extortion. While the latter offense involves the use of threats of physical injury, damage to property, or other harmful consequences to take or withhold property, coercion involves the use of similar threats to induce the victim to take or not take certain actions.
New York Extortion Laws: An Overview
The chart below contains some additional information on extortion-related laws in New York.
|Penalties and Sentences
First-degree coercion is a class D felony punishable by a sentence of at least 3 to 7 years in prison. In addition, the court may impose a fine which is the greater of $5,000 or double the amount of the defendant's gain from commission of the crime. Second-degree coercion is a class A misdemeanor punishable by a sentence of up to 1 year in prison, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
It is an affirmative defense to the charge of extortion by instilling fear of criminal charges if the defendant reasonably believed that the threatened charge was true and the sole purpose was to compel or induce the victim to take reasonable action to make good the wrongs that were subject to the charges.
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.
Additional Resources For New York Extortion Laws
You can find additional resources related to New York extortion laws by clicking on the links below:
Need Help With a New York Extortion Case? Reach Out to a Lawyer
There's often a fine line between extortion and high-pressure negotiations, as both can involve some degree of threats. Often an extortion case comes down to whether a person was reasonably in fear and had to act or not act based on that fear. If you've been charged with extortion in New York, it's in your best interests to contact a skilled criminal defense attorney who will know the weak points of extortion cases and help you make your strongest case possible to the court.