Gang members threaten to vandalize a store unless the owner pays them protection money; cyber attackers demand money in exchange for unlocking an organization's important data; a college student promises to upload compromising pictures onto a website unless his ex-wife compensates him. These scenarios are just a few examples of the crime of extortion.
Like robbery, extortion is a property crime which can be accompanied by threats, but unlike robbery, the threats associated with the crime of extortion are not considered imminent. Extortion occurs when an individual threatens or intimidates another person into agreeing to either give up money or do something to benefit the extorter.
Blackmail in North Carolina
Extortion in many states generally encompasses behavior that would be considered under the familiar term of "blackmail." However, North Carolina criminalizes these activities separately, distinguishing between the two offenses and establishing a separate blackmail statute.
North Carolina Extortion Laws at a Glance
The chart below provides a summary of statutes related to North Carolina's extortion laws, including links to important code sections.
- North Carolina General Statutes 14-118.4 (Extortion)
- North Carolina General Statutes 14-118 (Blackmail)
An individual commits extortion when he or she threatens or communicates a threat to another with a wrongful intent to obtain:
- Something of value or
- Any confirmation of the settlement of a fine or a debt
- Any advantage, or
Courts have interpreted the "wrongful intent" to refer to the obtaining of the property and not to the threat itself. Extortion is a Class F felony, punishable by a range of 10-41 months of incarceration, depending on prior convictions.
An individual commits blackmail when he or she either:
- Knowingly sends a writing containing threats, making demands of property from another; or
- Sends a writing which threatens to accuse another person of a crime with "the intent to extort or gain" some property from the person.
Blackmail is a Class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by a jail sentence ranging from 1- 120 days, depending on prior convictions.
- Mistake of fact
- Lack of intent
- Duress or necessity
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.
North Carolina Extortion Laws: Related Resources
Contact a North Carolina Defense Attorney about Your Extortion Case
Extortion is a serious crime that can result in incarceration if you're convicted. Whenever your freedom is threatened, it's in your best interests to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can analyze your options and can put up a solid defense on your behalf. Take control of your case by contacting an experienced attorney in your area immediately.