Extortion Law & Legal Definition


A person commits the crime of extortion if he knowingly obtains by threat control over the property of another, with intent to deprive him of the property. The property extorted may be an item of personal property or a sum of money. A threat may include impersonating as government official, such as a police officer.

Extortion is a felony in all states, except that a direct threat to harm the victim is usually treated as the crime of robbery. Extortion may be classified under different categories of seriousness depending on the degree of wrongful intent. Blackmail is a form of extortion in which the threat is to expose embarrassing, damaging information to family, friends or the public.

The following is a State Statute (Tennessee) on Extortion:

Tenn. Code Ann. § 39-14-112. Extortion.

(a) A person commits extortion who uses coercion upon another person with the intent to:

(1) Obtain property, services, any advantage or immunity; or

(2) Restrict unlawfully another's freedom of action.

(b) It is an affirmative defense to prosecution for extortion that the person reasonably claimed:

(1) Appropriate restitution or appropriate indemnification for harm done; or

(2) Appropriate compensation for property or lawful services.

(c) Extortion is a Class D felony.