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Tennessee Extortion Laws and Penalties

Extortion occurs when someone uses threats to induce someone else to act in a way that's beneficial to the person making the threats. The benefit can be monetary or it can just create some kind of an advantage, and the act must be something that the victim wouldn't do but for the threats. Extortion is considered a serious crime in most states, including Tennessee.

Comparing Extortion and Bribery

A concept that's fairly similar to extortion is bribery. But, the key difference between these two crimes is that extortion uses negative acts for compliance while bribery uses a reward for compliance. Here's an example illustrating the difference between the two:

  • Extortion: John tells Jill that he'll tell her husband about their affair unless she pays him $10,000.
  • Bribery: Jill's daughter catches her and John on a date, and Jill offers her daughter $1,000 for not saying anything to her father.

It's important to be aware that bribery is only a crime when it involves government officials or those in positions of authority. In fact, in Tennessee, bribery is covered in the state's chapter on "Offenses Against Administration of Government."

Tennessee Extortion Laws and Penalties: The Basics

When it comes to a question about the law, people usually want to get to their answer quickly. Unfortunately, laws are usually written in legal language that can take time to understand. For this reason, it can be beneficial to have a summary of law handy. In the chart that follows, you can find such a summary of Tennessee extortion laws and penalties, as well as links to relevant statutes.


Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 14, Section 39-14-112 (Extortion)

Defining the Offense

Extortion occurs when a person uses coercion upon someone with the intent to:

  • Obtain services, property, an advantage, or immunity;
  • Unlawfully restrict someone else's freedom of action; or
  • Impair an entity from the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege granted by the Constitution of Tennessee, the U.S. Constitution, or Tennessee's state laws in an effort to obtain something of value.
Charges and Penalties

Extortion is a Class D felony punishable by 2 to 12 years and a maximum fine of $5,000.


It's an affirmative defense to prosecution if the defendant reasonably claims:

  • Appropriate restitution or indemnification for harm done; or
  • Appropriate compensation for property or services.
Related Statute(s)

Tennessee Code, Title 39, Chapter 16, Section 39-16-101, et seq. (Bribery)

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.

Tennessee Extortion Laws and Penalties: Related Resources

For more information and resources related to this topic, please visit the links listed below.

Charged with Extortion in Tennessee? Get Legal Help

As you can see, extortion is treated as a serious crime in Tennessee and a conviction can lead to imprisonment and fines, but when a threat crosses the line into extortion isn't always clear. For this reason, if you've been charged with extortion in Tennessee, it's in your best interest to reach out to a local criminal defense attorney who can explain how Tennessee extortion laws and penalties apply to you. An attorney can also help craft your defense and advocate on your behalf during plea negotiations and/or trial.

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