How Is Extortion Prosecuted in Washington State?

You might be surprised that you can get charged with a felony, have to pay thousands of dollars in fines, and even go to jail for what you thought were mere words. Extortion gets treated as a severe crime in Washington State. If you are charged with extortion, you will want to contact a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Some of the legal strategies your lawyer could use are only available at certain stages of the process, and you want to give yourself every possible chance for a good outcome. In this article, we will take a look at the elements of an extortion case in Washington State and how a case is typically prosecuted. 

Elements of Extortion Under Washington State Law

A person can commit the felony of extortion if they try to coerce someone else to hand over money or assets or perform services by threatening violence or damage to the person’s reputation. You can still get charged with extortion for a failed attempt at extortion. In other words, if the person refused to do what you wanted and went to the police, you could end up facing felony charges without ever having received the thing you wanted.

The threat of violence or other harm + trying to obtain something of value in exchange for not harming the person = extortion. 

How Extortion Gets Prosecuted in Washington State

Extortion in the first degree gets prosecuted as a Class B felony. If convicted, the offender can get sent to a state correctional facility for as long as 10 years. The fine can be as high as $20,000. The court can impose both incarceration and a fine.

Extortion in the second degree gets charged as a Class C felony. The fine could be up to $10,000. Incarceration in a state correctional facility can last as long as five years. The sentence can include incarceration and a fine.

Examples of Situations That Could be Considered Extortion

You can see examples of extortion frequently on television shows and movies, even though people rarely get arrested for it in those stories. Blackmail is extortion. Bribing a government official like a police officer or an inspector to do something or look the other way are also common examples of extortion.

Here are some other examples of conduct that can be extortion:

  • Threaten to reveal something embarrassing about the victim or another person or cause harm to the victim or another person if the victim does not have sexual relations with the person making the threat.
  • Threaten to go to the police and reveal that the person committed a crime unless they pay you money.
  • Threaten to expose a person’s private information unless they give you something of value.
  • Try to force the person to give you their purse or wallet by threats of violence to them or another person.
  • Try to get the person to pay money or property for your testimony in court. 
  • Threatening to hold someone against their will until they or some other person pays money or transfers some property to you.

If you were charged with extortion or are concerned that you might face charges in the future, your best strategy is to talk to a Washington criminal defense attorney right away. Contact Jennifer today for help with your case.

DISCLAIMER: This post is intended to share my perspective, insights, and some general information on various aspects of criminal cases. It is not legal advice and is not intended to substitute for legal advice. You should consult an attorney to obtain legal advice for your individual situation and case.