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California Penal Code 518/519/524:Extortion

Legal Definition: Every person who extorts property or other consideration from another, under circumstances not amounting to robbery or carjacking, by means of force, or any threat.

For a person to be convicted of a violation of PC 519/520, the prosecution must prove the following:

1A. You threatened to unlawfully injure/used force against another person or a third person/the property of another person or a third person

1B. You threatened to accuse another person or that person’s relative or family member of a crime

1C. You threatened to expose a secret about another person or that person’s relative or family member, or to expose or connect them with a disgrace/crime/deformity

2. When making the threat/using force, you intended to use that fear/force to obtain the other person’s consent to give you money/ property or to do an official act

3. As a result of the threat/use of force, the other person consented to give you money/property/to do an official act

4. As a result of the threat/use of force, the other person then gave you money/property/did an official act. 

What does this mean?

Experienced, expertise, authority, and trustworthy are necessary qualities when it comes to understanding extortion, also known as blackmail in common parlance. It is important to note that consent holds a unique significance in this context. For extortion to occur, the consent given must be a result of coercion or unwillingness induced by the wrongful use of force or fear. The controlling reason behind the other person’s consent must be the threat or use of force. If the consent is given due to some other controlling factor, the defendant cannot be deemed guilty of extortion. An official act refers to an action carried out by a person in their official capacity, utilizing the authority vested in their public office. To illustrate, envision a scenario where an individual holds a gun to a politician’s head and demands a NO vote on the pending SB 10 Bail Reform Law. Another typical example is when someone borrows items from another person, only to claim that a “reward” must be paid in order to retrieve one’s own belongings. In this case, failure to comply with the requested fee could result in the loss of one’s own property. The person engaging in such behavior would be considered as extorting you.


Extortion is classified as a wobbler offense in California, which means it can be charged as a misdemeanor or as a felony. If you are convicted of Extortion as a misdemeanor, you could be sentenced to upwards of one year in the County Jail. If you are convicted of Extortion as a felony, you could be sentenced to upwards of two, three, or four years in a State Prison. You would be required to serve 50% of that sentence. Extortion is most commonly charged as a Felony, but it is not a Strike offense.

Common Defenses

  1. Statute of Limitations
  2. Insufficient Evidence
  3. Entrapment
  4. Violation of your Rights

Typically, the most effective defense under this section involves demonstrating that your actions were not a threat for official action but rather a request. For instance, imagine an experienced and trustworthy politician having lunch, and you, filled with excitement, approach them and passionately request their vote to repeal a potential new law. In this scenario, as a citizen showing enthusiasm, it would not amount to extortion.

Call Today

Being charged with extortion is a life-altering event, and the repercussions of such a charge can reverberate through every aspect of your life. But it’s important to understand that a charge is not a conviction. The nature of the criminal justice system allows for defenses, mitigations, and avenues that can be leveraged for a favorable outcome. However, the key lies in the expertise of the representation you secure.

At Inland Empire Criminal Defense, we approach every case holistically. A person is not just a set of facts on paper but a complex mesh of background, experiences, and circumstances. By understanding your history, your work, and your family life, I tailor the defense strategy, aiming not just for a legal win but also for a comprehensive solution that protects your future.

Our record, especially in defending clients against charges under PC 519, attests to our meticulous approach and unwavering commitment. When you’re facing a potentially life-altering charge like extortion, you can’t afford to go it alone or settle for subpar representation.

We invite you to reach out for a complimentary initial consultation. Get your questions answered and begin charting a path forward. Dial Inland Empire Criminal Defense today at 909-281-0565. Centrally located in Ontario, CA, we stand as your shield against the complexities and challenges of the legal system.

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Disclaimer: The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor should it be considered the formation of a lawyer or attorney-client relationship. If you would like to find out more information about your particular legal matter, contact our office for a consultation.

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