Extortion by Private Person Law and Legal Definition

Extortion by private person refers to the act by which a person receives or demands money or anything of value from someone in response to a threat against disclosing information, or as a consideration for not disclosing information and in violation of the law. In People v. Oppenheimer, 209 Cal. App. 2d 413 (Cal. App. 2d Dist. 1962), the court observed that the threat can be to do an unlawful injury to the person or property of the individual threatened or of a third person; or to accuse the individual threatened, or any relative, or member of his/her family, of any crime; or to expose, or to impute to him/her or them any deformity, disgrace or crime; or to expose any secret affecting the particular person or his/her family.

In general, the threat that qualifies to constitute extortion by private person includes the threat:

to cause physical harm to another; or

to cause damage to property; or

to subject another person to physical confinement; or

to accuse someone of a crime; or

to expose a secret tending to subject someone to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or

to take action or withhold action as an official.