Call or Email Today:

713-862-8880

Available 24/7 - Free Consultations

Houston Criminal
Law Blog

Extortion: A Small Threat With Large Consequences

Posted on January 24, 2014 by Mintzer Law

Taking property belonging to person through threats of physical harm or harm to someone’s reputation could be the crime of extortion. Texas criminal laws categorize extortion as a theft under the offenses against property section of the Texas Penal Code.

Extortion Under Texas Law

Section 31.02 of the Texas Penal Code consolidated several criminal offenses under a single theft category. Crimes that were once treated as individual crimes but are now referred to as a theft include:

Originally, only public servants or government officials could be charged with committing the crime of extortion because they were in a position to threaten government action to extort money. Today, extortion applies to private citizens as well as public officers who threaten the following to take money or property:

  • Unfavorable government action
  • Force or physical violence against the victim or someone else
  • Harm to another person’s reputation
  • Damage to property

Extorted Penalties

A charge of extortion in Texas can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. The severity of the charge depends upon the value of the property or the amount of the money taken by the offender. The least severe charge is a class C misdemeanor when the amount taken is less than $50.

As the value of the money or property increases, so does the severity of the charge and the penalties that a judge can impose. Typical charges and the dollar amounts of the property taken include:

  • Class B misdemeanor if the property value is $50 but less than $500
  • Class A misdemeanor if the property value is $500 but less than $1,500
  • State jail felony if the property value is $1,500 but less than $20,000
  • Third degree felony if the property value is $20,000 but less than $100,000
  • Second degree felony if the property value is $100,000 but less than $200,000
  • First degree felony if the property value is $200,000 or more

Penalties and Sentences For Extorting Convictions

The penalty for extortion as a class C misdemeanor is a fine up to $500 for a person convicted of extortion as a class C misdemeanor to a minimum of five years up to a maximum of 20 years in prison for a first degree felony. Other sentences include:

  • Up to 180 days in jail and a fine up to $2,000 for a class B misdemeanor
  • Up to a year in jail and a fine up to $4,000 for a class A misdemeanor
  • From 180 days to two years in state jail and a fine up to $10,000 for a state jail felony
  • From one to 10 years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 for a third degree felony
  • From two years up to a maximum of 20 years and up to a $10,000 for a second degree felony
  • From five to 20 years in prison and a $10,000 fine for a first degree felony

If you have been accused of extortion, you may be facing some serious penalties. Get a hold of Rand Mintzer by calling 713-862-8880 to learn how to defend against these charges.