Extortion and Blackmail Lawyer in Austin, TX

Have you been accused and charged of either blackmail or extortion? If so, conviction (even if you did not make an intentional threat) of extortion and blackmail carry severe penalties of high fines and prolonged jail time.

Don’t let this happen to you. By understanding the definitions of blackmail and extortion, the differences between them, and the possible penalties a guilty conviction carries, you will also understand the importance of receiving proper legal representation in court.

If you are facing charges in Texas, an extortion attorney should be your first phone call. Once you make that call, you will better understand your situation and your options. You will feel confident in your case and will receive the best possible outcome.  

Defining Blackmail and Extortion

Although similar in nature and may be similarly prosecuted, there is a difference between blackmail and extortion.

Blackmail: To threaten with future (not immediate) intangible harm such as revealing something injurious to another person’s reputation or the reputation of their friends and family in order to steal money or property or in exchange for favors.

Exposure of a crime or secret is not illegal. However, blackmail is offering to refrain from taking a legal action or from disclosing undesirable information with the specific intent of ruining a victim’s reputation for favors or one’s own financial gain.

Extortion: To threaten future (not immediate) harm or offering “protection” to a person or their friends and family in order to steal money or property or in exchange for favors. Threats can also be made to those who are called to testify in a court proceeding, requesting the victim to lie or withhold testimony.

Extortion includes the following elements:

  • Communicating to a victim in any way including via phone call, text, email, written letter, online chat, or in person.
  • Threatening the victim or the victim’s friends or family with an accusation of a crime, an offense, or an injury.
  • Intending to gain money, property, or favors.

“Cyber Extortion” is a new and growing threat. Online criminals use “ransomware” to encrypt a victim’s important computer files and documents, making them unreadable and unusable until a ransom is paid.

Extortion can be either a state or federal crime. In Texas, all three of these crimes are charged under the theft statutes.

Possible Penalties

Blackmail and extortion charges can range from a Class C Misdemeanor to a First Degree Felony. Possible penalties if convicted are severe and may include:

  • Hefty fines
  • Property forfeiture
  • Restitution to the victim
  • Imprisonment up to 99 years

Probation is typically only available for low-value blackmail or if blackmail or extortion was attempted but unsuccessful.

In Your Defense

Even if you didn’t intend to blackmail or extort a business associate, a client, a friend, or a family member, your words during a heated discussion may be taken as such and used against you in a court of law.

If you are accused of blackmail or extortion, it is imperative to get a proper defense so that your case may be dismissed or penalties can be reduced. Every case is different and each has a different potential outcome.

An experienced extortion lawyer is equipped with a thorough knowledge and understanding of Texas extortion law and can provide you with a vigorous defense specific to the nature of the accusations and the facts of the case. Possible defenses to your case may include:

  • You were falsely accused.
  • You were a victim of mistaken identity.
  • You never made any threats nor coerced the victim into giving you money, property, or favors.
  • There is a lack of intent or reason for you to blackmail or extort.
  • There is proof that the person alleging blackmail or extortion has an ulterior motive (a form of blackmail itself).
  • Demonstration that the “extortion” was instead a legitimate business tactic or transaction.
  • There is no evidence or not enough evidence to support the accusation or to result in a conviction.

The long-term effects of being convicted of a crime are severe and will affect everything in your life from employment, housing, family relationships, and self worth. Don’t let someone else’s accusations go left unchecked.

Contact the law office of Eric Harron for a consultation on your case and for information about how to move forward.