There are 2 different types of extortion under Michigan law: threats of harm; and threats to accuse another of a crime. The crime of Extortion carries a maximum possible punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Michigan Compiled Law 750.213 provides that “Any person who shall, either orally or by a written or printed communication, maliciously threaten to accuse another of any crime or offense, or shall orally or by any written or printed communication maliciously threaten any injury to the person or property or mother, father, husband, wife, or child of another with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary advantage, whatever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened to do or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, shall be guilty of a felony…”. Extortion threats must be written or stated – gestures alone are insufficient.
Threats of extortion, if they coerce the alleged victim to submit to sexual penetration or sexual contact, are treated separately under Criminal Sexual Conduct laws. The penalty for this type of an offense is usually severe, but varies based upon the nature of the sexual act in question (See MCL 750.520 et al).
Typically, the Extortion does not cover threats where the act required of the victim is minor with no serious consequences to the alleged victim. A threat of harm in the future to an alleged victim if he or she speaks to the police about a crime committed against him or her, would constitute extortion. However, charging decisions are always within the discretion of the City Attorney, Prosecutor, or Attorney General. The involvement of an experienced criminal defense attorney in some instances may convince the Prosecuting authority that the act in question is of minor degree, or untrue, and that an Extortion charge should not be pursued.
There are potential civil and criminal law remedies that can be pursued when a wrong occurs against you. It is always wise to speak with an attorney when a wrong occurs against you, instead of directly taking matters into you own hands or acting without thinking and out of anger, to provide you with a sound and legitimate course of action. If you are ever accused or charged with Extortion it is important to immediately consult with an experienced attorney to provide you with your best course of defense.
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