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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Extortion, outwresting, or exaction is a criminal offense which occurs when a person unlawfully obtains either money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution, through coercion. Refraining from doing harm is sometimes euphemistically called protection. Extortion is commonly practiced by organized crime groups. The actual obtainment of money or property is not required to commit the offense. Making a threat of violence which refers to a requirement of a payment of money or property to halt future violence is sufficient to commit the offense. Exaction refers not only to extortion or the unlawful demanding and obtaining of something through force,[1] but additionally, in its formal definition, means the infliction of something such as pain and suffering or making somebody endure something unpleasant.[2]

In the United States, extortion may also be committed as a federal crime across a computer system, phone, by mail or in using any instrument of "interstate commerce." Extortion requires that the individual sent the message "willingly" and "knowingly" as elements of the crime. The message only has to be sent (but does not have to reach the intended recipient) to commit the crime of extortion.

Extortion is distinguished from robbery. In "strong arm" robbery, the offender takes goods from the victim with use of immediate force. In "robbery" goods are taken or an attempt is made to take the goods against the will of another—with or without force. A bank robbery or extortion of a bank can be committed by a letter handed by the criminal to the teller. In extortion, the victim is threatened to hand over goods, or else damage to their reputation or other harm or violence against them may occur. Under federal law extortion can be committed with or without the use of force and with or without the use of a weapon. A key difference is that extortion always involves a written or verbal threat whereas robbery can occur without any verbal or written threat (refer to U.S.C. 875 and U.S.C. 876).

The term extortion is often used metaphorically to refer to usury or to price-gouging, though neither is legally considered extortion. It is also often used loosely to refer to everyday situations where one person feels indebted against their will, to another, in order to receive an essential service or avoid legal consequences. For example, certain lawsuits, fees for services such as banking, automobile insurance, gasoline prices, and even taxation, have all been labeled "legalized extortion" by people with various social or political beliefs.

Neither extortion nor blackmail require a threat of a criminal act, such as violence, merely a threat used to elicit actions, money, or property from the object of the extortion. Such threats include the filing of reports (true or not) of criminal behavior to the police, revelation of damaging facts (such as pictures of the object of the extortion in a compromising position), etc.

See also

  • Badger game The victim or "mark" - often a married man - is tricked into a compromising position to make him vulnerable to blackmail.
  • Clip joint A clip joint or fleshpot is an establishment, usually a strip club or entertainment bar, typically one claiming to offer adult entertainment or bottle service, in which customers are tricked into paying money and receive poor goods or services, or none, in return.
  • Coercion is the practice of compelling a person or manipulating them to behave in an involuntary way (whether through action or inaction) by use of threats, intimidation, trickery, or some other form of pressure or force. These are used as leverage, to force the victim to act in the desired way.
  • Price gouging Price gouging is a pejorative term for a seller pricing much higher than is considered reasonable or fair. In precise, legal usage, it is the name of a felony that applies in some of the United States only during civil emergencies.
  • Cryptovirology: The use of public key cryptography to carry out cryptoviral extortion.
  • Danegeld The Danegeld ("Danish tax") was a tax raised to pay tribute to the Viking raiders to save a land from being ravaged. It was called the geld or gafol in eleventh-century sources;[1] the term Danegeld did not appear until the early twelfth century.
  • Dognapping : The crime of taking a canine from its owner, which usually occurs in purebred dogs, the profit from which can run up to thousands of dollars.
  • Prize (law) : Regarding accepting ransom instead of destroying a captured vessel, a form of extortion deemed acceptable under international law in the days of fighting sail.
  • Tiger kidnapping: the taking of an innocent hostage to make a loved one or associate of the victim do something, e.g. a child is taken hostage to force the shopkeeper to open the safe; the term originates from the usually long preceding observation, like a tiger does on its prey. Ransoms are often used alongside these.
  • Loan sharking : A loan shark is a person or body that offers unsecured loans at high interest rates to individuals, often backed by blackmail or threats of violence.
  • Nuclear blackmail : Nuclear blackmail is a form of nuclear strategy in which an aggressor uses the threat of use of nuclear weapons to force an adversary to perform some action or make some concessions. It is a type of extortion, related to brinkmanship.
  • Tallage Tallage or talliage (from the French tailler, i.e. a part cut out of the whole) may have signified at first any tax, but became in England and France a landuse or land tenure tax. Later in England it was further limited to assessments by the crown upon cities, boroughs, and royal domains. In effect, tallage was a land tax.
  • Wheel Clamping Widely used in England by private individuals and companies to extort money from motorists. This practice is illegal in Scotland.
  • Terrorism Terrorism is, most simply, policy intended to intimidate or cause terror.[1] It is more commonly understood as an act which (1) is intended to create fear (terror), (2) is perpetrated for an ideological goal (as opposed to a materialistic goal or a lone attack), and (3) deliberately targets (or disregards the safety of) non-combatants. Some definitions also include acts of unlawful violence or unconventional warfare, but at present, there is no internationally agreed upon definition of terrorism.[2][3]


  1. ^ exaction - definition of exaction by the Free Online Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia
  2. ^ "exact definition - Dictionary - MSN Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-10-31. 

External links

  • Legaltree, a Canadian legal portal, contains an article describing the elements of the offence of extortion under Canadian criminal law.

1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EXTORTION (Lat. extorsio, from extorquere, to twist out, to take away by force), in English law the term applied to the exaction by public officers of money or money's worth not due at all, or in excess of what is due, or before it is due. Such exaction, unless made in good faith (i.e. in honest mistake as to the sum properly payable), is a misdemeanour by the common law and is punishable by fine and (or) imprisonment. Besides the punishment above stated, an action for twice the value of the thing extorted lies against officers of the king (1275,3 Edw. I. c. 26). There are numerous provisions for the punishment of particular officers who make illegal exactions or take illegal fees: e.g. sheriffs and their officers (Sheriffs Act 1887), county court bailiffs (County Courts Act 1888), clerks of courts of justice, and gaolers who exact fees from prisoners. A gaoler is also punishable for detaining the corpse of a prisoner as security for debt. The term "public officer" is not limited to offices under the crown; and there are old precedents of criminal proceedings for extortion against churchwardens, and against millers and ferrymen who demand tolls in excess of what is customary under their franchise.

The term extortion is also applied to the exaction of money or money's worth by menaces of personal violence or by threats to accuse of crime or to publish defamatory matter about another person. These offences fall partly under the head of robbery and partly under blackmail, or what in French is termed chantage. See Russell on Crimes (6th ed., vol. i. p. 423; vol. iii. p. 348).

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