Trenton NJ Theft by Extortion Attorney
With Offices in Hamilton and Pennington, New Jersey
The line between aggressively requesting money that you are owed and threatening to extort money is blurry. As a result, theft by extortion is one of the most commonly charged theft offenses in New Jersey. The statute is interpreted broadly by NJ law enforcement, prosecutors, and judges. This means that you can be charged with theft by extortion even if you do not utter threatening words; the threat to extort may be implied from your conduct. Moreover, NJ prosecutors often seek the most severe penalties for theft by extortion because these cases involve both larceny and threats.
Cohen & Riechelson is a law firm with a track record of success in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Our criminal defense attorneys have more than 40 years of experience defending clients against theft charges throughout Mercer County, NJ, including Princeton, Lawrence, and Ewing. We understand that your freedom could be at stake, so we will do everything possible to help you beat your criminal charges and avoid prison.
Theft by Extortion Charges in Mercer County NJ
Theft by extortion in New Jersey is governed by N.J.S.A. 2C:20-5. Generally speaking, a person is guilty of theft by extortion if they purposely and unlawfully obtain the property of another person through coercion or threats.
Keep in mind that even if the conduct being threatened is not illegal by itself, you can still be charged with theft by extortion. That’s because the statute addresses a number of different kinds of threats:
- Bodily Harm, Restraint, or Crime: You cannot threaten to inflict bodily injury on another person in order to get them to give you their property. Similarly, you cannot threaten to physically confine or restrain another person in order to secure their property. In fact, you cannot threaten to commit any criminal offense for the purpose of obtaining the property of another person.
- File Criminal Charges: You cannot threaten to accuse another person of a criminal offense or cause charges to be instituted against another person.
- Disclose Secrets: You cannot threaten to expose or publicize any secret that might subject another person hatred, contempt or ridicule, or that might impair their credit or business reputation. Similarly, you cannot threaten to expose any asserted fact, whether true or false, that might expose another person to ridicule. Another term for this type of conduct is “blackmail.”
- Withhold Action as Public Official: If you are a public official, you cannot threaten to take or withhold action in your capacity as an official. Similarly, you cannot threaten to cause a public official to wake or withhold action.
- Strike or Boycott: You cannot threaten to bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action unless the property is demanded for the benefit of the collective group.
- Testimony: You cannot threaten to testify or withhold testimony with respect to another person’s legal claim or legal defense.
- Other Harm: You cannot threaten to inflict any other harm which is calculated to materially harm another person.
Penalties for Theft by Extortion in Pennington NJ
The penalties for most theft offenses in New Jersey are determined by the value of the property taken. However, theft by extortion is treated differently; it is always a second degree felony. Regardless of the amount of money or value of property that was extorted, a person convicted of theft by extortion is subject to a sentence of 5–10 years in NJ State Prison. You can also potentially be fined as much as $150,000.
Moreover, the fact that theft by extortion is classified as a second degree felony means that the charge carries a presumption of incarceration. This means that you will almost certainly be looking at prison time if you are convicted. Beyond that, theft by extortion is an enumerated offense under the No Early Release Act (NERA). This means that anyone convicted of theft by extortion will be required to serve at least 85 percent of their sentence before becoming eligible for parole.
Call Hopewell NJ Theft by Extortion Lawyers
The lawyers at Cohen & Riechelson know how to secure a win in the courtroom and help you avoid the most severe penalties for a theft by extortion charge. Call us today to discuss your case, or fill out the online contact form to schedule a free consultation at our Hamilton or Pennington offices.