Have you Been Charged with Theft by Extortion in Georgia?
Georgia laws concerning theft charges are confusing and complicated to most people. A charge of theft by extortion must be carefully evaluated and investigated by a competent Attorney, who has in-depth knowledge of the many elements of extortion. If you or a loved one is facing a theft by extortion charge in Georgia, it is crucial to hire an experienced lawyer to defend your needs. The Law Offices of Lawson and Berry and their team of Georgia Theft by Extortion Attorneys offer expertise in the field of theft and are committed to your case. Don't wait because you and your loved one's future depends on it. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Theft by extortion occurs when someone obtains money or property from another person through the use of threatening or intimidating behavior. The intimidation or threats can be directed towards another person, their property, or loved ones. Theft by extortion also includes acquiring money or property by falsely claiming to be someone that you are not.
Georgia Law on Theft by Extortion
O.C.G.A. §16-8-16 outlines six ways that a person can commit the crime of theft by extortion. A person commits theft by extortion when they unlawfully obtain property of or from another person by threatening to:
- Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other criminal offense;
- Accuse anyone of a criminal offense;
- Disseminate any information tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or to impair his credit or business reputation;
- Take or withhold action as a public official or cause an official to take or withhold action;
- Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective unofficial action if the property is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group in whose interest the actor purports to act; or
- Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense.
A man named Reonoppoliss Taylor was found guilty of the crime of theft by extortion among other crimes. Taylor and his accomplices took speakers from the victim's van after Taylor threatened the victim with losing his friend unless he left the van and the van's keys at a gas station. The victim was justified in believing that he may never see his friend again and because of the threats, he followed Taylor's instructions. The jury found that evidence sufficient to find Taylor guilty of theft by extortion. Taylor v. State, 302 Ga. App. 54, (2010).
What Must be Proven to be Convicted
To be guilty of the crime of theft by extortion, the State must demonstrate that the accused committed the crime intentionally and must prove it beyond a reasonable doubt.
Penalty for Theft by Extortion in Georgia
A person convicted of the crime of theft by extortion will face a penalty of at least one but no more than ten years in prison. O.C.G.A. §16-8-16(d).
In addition to a prison sentence or fine, there are other consequences of committing theft by extortion. The person you stole from could bring a civil action against you for damages. They could sue you and recover monetary damages. The monetary damages could include:
- Compensatory damages which would include the value of the property and any other loss sustained as a result of the theft
- Liquidated exemplary damages amounting to $150 or twice the value of the loss (as long as the total amount is less than $5,000)
- The costs of bringing the suit against you; or
- Restitution damages for any damages or harm that came to the victims because on your actions.
Defenses in Georgia
Innocence: If you have an alibi or witness testimony proving that you did not commit the crime, that evidence will be vital to you in court. Your Lawyer will use this evidence to help you receive an acquittal.
The property belonged to you: If the property belonged to you and the only way you could get it back was through threats, then you could have a defense to the charge of theft by extortion. Your Georgia Theft by Extortion Lawyer could help demonstrate that the property was yours and being held against your will.
I didn't use threats or force to induce consent: The crime of theft by extortion requires some threat or intimidation. If your and your Attorney can succeed in showing a lack of threatening harm, a charge for extortion can be dismissed for lack of evidence.
Lack of Intent: Theft by extortion requires intent on the part of the accused to commit the crime. If you did not have the intent to threaten another and take their property, then that will be a defense.
What are not Defenses
The injury was just to their reputation: Recent case law has found that Courts consider threatening a person's reputation as the type of act that is a crime meant to be included under the statute. For example, threatening to release an article that the mayor was doing drugs in order for him to give you money would be considered theft by extortion.
I was not being serious with my threats: Even if the threats were made in jest or not to be taken seriously, if a rational person would feel intimidated or threatened and they turned over the property, then you could be found guilty of theft by extortion.
Intoxication: While intoxication may be a defense in other states, voluntary intoxication does not negate the intent element needed to be guilty of theft by extortion. Therefore, voluntary intoxication will not be a successful defense.
A conviction for theft by extortion could have grave consequences as explained above. It is critical that you have an experienced Georgia Theft by Extortion Attorney to navigate the ins and outs of the laws regarding theft by conversion. Your Georgia Theft by Extortion Lawyer will help defend you against the charges and protect your valuable legal and civil rights. They will be with you every step of the process, and they are dedicated to your case. That means they can be reached anytime- days, nights, and weekends. Contact our Georgia Attorneys to schedule a consultation. Don't wait to call because a theft by extortion conviction will have serious consequences.