California Penal Code Section 518 PC – Extortion

Extortion is a crime that is committed by an individual who uses force or fear to convince another individual into giving up his money or property to the defendant. Also, extortion can apply to a situation where the defendant uses force or threats of force to convince a public official to act or refrain from acting in his capacity as a public official. Extortion is commonly known as blackmail and it is a felony offense in the State of California.

If you or a loved one has been charged with extortion under California Penal Code Section 518 PC, you should immediately contact an experienced extortion attorney at The H Law Group to defend you. You should not take extortion charges lightly as a conviction of this criminal offense carries a maximum prison sentence of up to three years. So, contact an experienced Los Angeles Extortion Attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and achieve the best possible results for you. Schedule your free consultation by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

Text of California Penal Code 518 PC

According to the California State Legislature, extortion is defined as follows:

(a) Extortion is the obtaining of property or other consideration from another, with his or her consent, or the obtaining of an official act of a public officer, induced by wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right.

(b) For purposes of this chapter, “consideration” means anything of value, including sexual conduct as defined in subdivision (b) of Section 311.3, or an image of an intimate body part as defined in subparagraph (C) of paragraph (4) of subdivision (j) of Section 647.

(c) Notwithstanding subdivision (a), this section does not apply to a person under 18 years of age who has obtained consideration consisting of sexual conduct or an image of an intimate body part.”

Prosecution’s Burden of Proof to Convict an Individual of Extortion

For the prosecution to convict an individual of extortion, it must prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt. If for any reason, the prosecution cannot prove one of the following elements, the defendant cannot be convicted of extortion under CPC Section 518.

  • The defendant used force or fear to
  • Obtain the money of another person, the property of another person, or have the alleged victim perform or refrain from performing an act in his capacity as a public official
  • The defendant had the specific intent to use force or fear to convince another person of giving up his money or property, or perform or refrain from performing an official act
  • As a result of the coercion, the other person gave up his money or property or performed or refrained from performing an official act

For the purposes of using fear to coerce an individual into giving up consideration (money, property, or official act), fear includes blackmailing another individual using a secret that you know about the individual. A secret is something that is not generally known to the public and is something that would cause some harm to the alleged victim’s reputation. For example, if you threaten a judge by exposing his marital affair to get a reduction in your sentence, using the extramarital affair satisfies the fear requirement that the prosecution must show.

Also, when it comes to the consideration that is required to convict an individual of extortion, the following things can be used to satisfy this requirement: money, property, sexual favors, making an official act, refraining from acting in an official act, or anything else that might be of value to the defendant.

Examples of Extortion Under California Penal Code Section 518 PC

A man approaches a shop owner and threatens to close down her shop unless she agrees to pay him $200 a month. The shop owner calls the police and tells them what’s happening. The man is then arrested for extortion. The prosecution will probably be able to convict him of extortion under Section 518 PC.

A woman threatens to falsely accuse her boss of raping her if he does not increase her salary. The boss calls the police and tells them what she told him. The prosecution can convict her of extortion because she’s using fear to get her boss to give her something in exchange (higher salary – money).

A man is on trial for selling drugs. He tells the judge that unless she dismisses the case, he will tell everyone that she was having an affair with her friend’s husband. The judge calls the police and the man is arrested. The prosecution will be able to convict the individual of extortion because he is using fear to convince a public official (judge) in performing a public act that benefits him (earns him his freedom).

Extortion Defenses

To defend you from a charge of extortion, there are a variety of defenses that your attorney can make. The list of defenses is not an exhaustive list of all defenses that might apply to your case, but rather some of the defenses that can be used to defend you. Here are some of the extortion defenses that your attorney may be able to use:

  • The defendant is falsely being accused of committing extortion
  • There is insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant has committed extortion
  • The alleged victim voluntarily and freely consented to give the defendant his money or property
  • The defendant did not use force or fear to convince the alleged victim to give up his money or property
  • The defendant was acting under duress
  • You were intoxicated at the time of making the statements to the alleged victim

Extortion Penalties

If the prosecution convicts an individual of extortion under California Penal Code Section 518 PC, an individual faces the following penalties:

  • A felony conviction on his criminal record
  • Two, three, or four years imprisonment in California State Prison
  • A fine of up to $10,000
  • Formal felony probation

If for some reason, the prosecution is not successful in convicting you of extortion, it may be able to convict you of attempted extortion. For example, if the alleged victim refused to give up his money or property, although you cannot be convicted of extortion, you can be convicted of attempted extortion. Attempted extortion is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution has the discretion to charge the crime as either a felony or a misdemeanor. Here are the potential consequences for being convicted of felony attempted extortion vs misdemeanor attempted extortion

Felony Attempted Extortion Penalties

  1. Felony conviction
  2. 16 months, two years, or three years in county jail
  3. A fine of up to $10,000
  4. Being placed on felony formal probation

Misdemeanor Attempted Extortion Penalties

  1. Misdemeanor conviction
  2. Up to one year in county jail
  3. A fine of up to $1000
  4. Placement on misdemeanor informal summary probation

As you can tell, being convicted of felony attempted extortion is a much more serious offense than being convicted of misdemeanor attempted extortion. So, if you have been charged with this crime, you should promptly contact an experienced Los Angeles Extortion Attorney to represent you and defend you.

Having a great attorney at your side can mean the difference between you being convicted with a felony vs a misdemeanor, which carries far fewer consequences. So, if you have been charged with extortion contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at The H Law Group to defend you and achieve the best possible results for you.

Crimes Related to Extortion

Here are some crimes that are related to extortion either because the prosecution has to prove similar elements to convict you or because the prosecution often brings them in addition to extortion or blackmail charges.

  • Bribery – CPC Section 67 PC and 68 PC
  • Robbery – CPC Section 211 PC
  • Kidnapping – CPC Sections 207 & 210 PC

Contact an Experienced Extortion Attorney

If you or a loved one has been charged with extortion in Los Angeles or elsewhere in California, you should promptly contact an experienced Los Angeles Extortion Attorney to represent you and keep you from going to jail. We have the knowledge and experience to achieve the best possible results for you. Schedule your free consultation today by filling out the contact form below or by calling us at 1 (213) 370-0404.

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