My witness can’t be at court

A person facing a legal hearing often has a friend who promises to testify for him.  Unfortunately, when the day arrives the friend can’t be present at court but he says that he will write a letter for the judge to see.

Lawyers cringe when a client asks why the judge won’t accept the letter.  The court has good reason; it is against the law.  It is a witness that the opposing lawyer cannot cross examine.

Think of it this way.  Your are being tried in court and the other side gets to put on a letter that says you are guilty.  You can’t cross examine the missing witness as to why he believes you’re guilty.  You can’t ask the paper that the missing witness submitted if he even saw the crime.  You can’t ask the missing witness anything.  A client would say, “It’s not fair!”

A letter from a person who could not attend court isn’t fair to anyone.  If you have a person who could help your case, tell your attorney.  He will get the witness subpoenaed.   The witness is protected from being fired from his job, excused from school, etc.  for attending court.

Then he really will be a witness.

 

With Christmas almost here, I thought this story would be amuzing

From Jack Fuqua’s Law Jokes:


Christmas in the Courthouse
A supposedly true story…

In a local county courthouse the Clerk of Court hated fake Christmas trees, so he always put up a real tree in the Clerk’s office every year. One year the Fire Marshal happened to do a building inspection of the courthouse just before Christmas, while the Clerk was out to lunch, and noticed the tree. In the belief that the tree represented a fire hazard, he proceeded to write a citation for a violation of the fire code, which prohibited “live” trees in a public building, and gave it to the Clerk’s assistant.

When the Clerk returned from lunch and was given the citation, he hit the roof. Determined that no Fire Marshal was going to spoil his Christmas, he decided to fight the citation. So he went to the morgue in the adjoining police station, and asked the Coroner for his help. The Coroner came over and put a toe tag on the tree, listing the cause of death as “Being cut off at ground level”.

The Clerk called the Fire Marshal back to re-inspect, and showed him the toe tag on the tree. He told him that when the Coroner pronounces something “dead”, it is *legally* dead, and therefore the citation for having a “live” tree was obviously in error, and wasn’t worth the paper it was written on.

The Fire Marshal thought about it, and came to the realization that, since he would have to pursue the fire code violation in that very courtroom, this was probably one argument he wasn’t going to win. So he let them have their tree.

THE CHRISTMAS SPIRIT TRIUMPHS OVER THE GRINCHES OF THE WORLD ONCE AGAIN!

 

He’s lying!!!

We  have all had situations where we deal with people who lie.   Every one tells a lie.  Some lie because they don’t want to hurt our feelings.  Other people simply have no regard for the truth.  Still others lie to make or keep money.  The list goes on.

If you think you are going to be in legal problems, don’t lie.  Simply don’t talk.  In Tennessee, it is a class E felony to tell a lie to a policeman.  The policeman can lie to you and it’s called “investigative technique”.

One thing you can do when dealing with a potential legal problem is to take notes.  Clear, truthful notes are very valuable.  List what you and the other person said.  List the time of day, the location and any witnesses.  If you are taken to court, your notes will be invaluable to your attorney.

In Tennessee, you can tape conversations that you are a part of even if the other party does not know he is being recorded.  But you cannot tape a conversation you are not a part of such as putting a tape recorder in your child’s backpack and sending her off to school.

The best thing to do is to tell the truth.  The next best thing is to say nothing.

 

 

Petty theft and shoplifting

 An excellent article I found on the web.
Petty theft and shoplifting are often dismissed as insignificant crimes, because by definition, they involve taking something of relatively little value. However, the consequences can be significant.

Shoplifting and petty theft are criminal offenses that are often thought of as interchangeable. In fact, the two share common elements: Each crime requires the perpetrator to take something of a certain value or less, with the intent to permanently keep it. Shoplifting, however, is fine-tuned to apply to the theft of store merchandise; and it can apply to acts that fall short of removing the item from the store. This article explains the crimes in detail, as well as common possible punishments.

Petty Theft

Petty theft (from the French “petit,” or small) is the taking of something whose value is at or below a specified dollar amount, such as $500 or $750. If the item’s value is more than the threshold amount, the offense becomes “grand” larceny (again, from the French for “large”). In order to convict a defendant of petty theft, the prosecutor must convince a jury or judge, beyond a reasonable doubt, of the following:

  • The victim of the crime had a “possessory interest” in the item taken. This means that the victim had a right to possess the item, even if the victim didn’t own it. Often, the victim is both the owner and the one with possession. But not always – suppose the bike you’re using belongs to your cousin, who loaned it to you for the summer. Its theft would be from you, because you have a possessory interest in the bike.
  • The property was “taken away,” if only slightly. Petit theft traditionally required the movement, however slight, of the item away from its original place or position. Modern statutes often dispense with the requirement that the defendant move the item, insisting only that the defendant exercised control over it.
  • The victim did not agree to the taking. In most cases, this element is obvious. Taking something through deception or deceit also satisfies this element, as when a person tells an owner that he will return an item, intending from the outset to keep it. (Note that this is different from promising and intending at the time to return the item, then failing to do so—as long as the borrower intended when he obtained it to return it, his subsequent failure to do so does not make his act criminal. Instead, he will be civilly liable for failing to return the property.)
  • The defendant intended to permanently deprive the victim of his interest in the property. Here, the prosecutor must show that at the time the thing was taken, the defendant didn’t intend to return it. It’s not necessary to show that the victim in fact never got it back – it’s the defendant’s state of mind at the time he acted that’s important. And, merely taking something under circumstances that make it highly unlikely that it will be returned qualifies as a taking. For example, taking a bike and stashing it in the woods, where it would not likely be found, is tantamount to intending to permanently deprive the victim of the bike.

Shoplifting

Shoplifting is a form of petty theft, and covers the taking of merchandise that is worth less than a specified amount. Each of the petty theft elements explained just above apply in a shoplifting context, with particular wrinkles. For example:

  • The shoplifter need not exit the store without paying in order to commit shoplifting. Even the slightest movement that is consistent with an intention to steal is sufficient. For instance, placing the item under one’s clothing, or hiding it inside another item, are enough of a “taking” to constitute theft. Of course, the shopper must have intended to steal when doing these things; absentmindedly placing one item over another does not equal intent to steal.
  • A shoplifter’s willingness to pay for an item after being apprehended will not defeat a charge of shoplifting. As long as the defendant intended to keep the item without paying when taking it, a subsequent change of heart won’t matter.
  • A person can commit shoplifting by altering or removing price tags. These acts illustrate an intent to take money from the merchant, by attempting to pay less for the item than the tag originally specified.

Establishing the Value of the Item Stolen

For both petty theft and shoplifting, the crime will be elevated to grand theft if the item or merchandise is worth more than the amount specified in the statute. For things taken from stores, establishing value is not difficult, but that may not be the case when it comes to personal property that is not for sale. For example, what is the value of your two-year old leather jacket, or your father’s briefcase that is quite worn but has high sentimental value to you? In general, value is determined by what the item would fetch on the open market. So, the leather jacket might be valued by comparing it to similar jackets in second-hand stores. The same goes for that well-loved briefcase – its dollar value will not include the sentimental value you have placed on it.

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Penalties for Petty Theft and Shoplifting

Petty theft and the related crime of shoplifting are misdemeanors. This means that convicted defendants face the possibility of time in jail (not state prison) of up to one year or less, in most states; and a fine of up to one or two thousand dollars. Depending on the circumstances, first-time offenders may have the option of “diversion,” a court-supervised program in which the defendant performs community service, perhaps undergoes counseling, and remains arrest-free for a period of time. Defendants who successfully complete the program are entitled to have the charges dismissed.

Penalties for petty theft can become much more serious when the defendant has a prior conviction for the same offense. In these situations, repeat offenders can be charged with a felony, known as “petty with a prior.” Felonies carry the possibility of time in state prison, and of course the stigma of having a felony conviction on one’s record. See Serious Petty Theft: “Petty With a Prior” & Burglary for more information.

Questions to Ask Your Attorney

  • How can I prove that I always intended to return the subject of this criminal charge?
  • What are the chances that the prosecutor will charge me with a “petty with a prior?” Can I plead to a lesser offense?
  • In this courthouse or with this judge, what’s the usual treatment for first-time offenders who plead guilty?
  • If I go to trial and lose, am I likely to be punished more severely than if I plead guilty now?

DUI Expense

I found an interesting article on DUI.

 

Most people don’t realize that DUI fines cost you a lot of money. Here are the 10 things that go in determining the cost of your drunk driving penalties and how much you should expect to pay.

1. Your Driving Record

The biggest factor in determining your DUI fines is your past drunk driving record. Typically, the fines for first time DUI offenses are less costly than multiple offenses. The actual amount of your fine will depend on your state dui laws.

A first time DUI offense usually falls between $350 – $1000. If you get a second or third DUI, the fines will be much higher. The fine for a repeat offenders can be up to $15,000 and even higher.

Your Cost : $350 – $15,000

2. Blood Alcohol Test Fine

When you are arrested for a drunk driving, you will have to take a chemical test to get a more accurate estimate of your Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC).

If you fail your DUI sobriety test , you are required by the “Implied Consent Law” to take the chemical test. This law basically says that if you have a driver’s license you have agreed to take this test.

If you refuse to take this test, your driver’s license will be suspended and you will be hit with a DUI fine.

Read DUI Consequences: What Will Happen to Me Now?

Your Cost: $500 – $1,000

3. Car Impounded

If you are arrested for drunk driving, your car will be impounded. You will then have to pay for the towing and impounding fees. You could also be charged a vehicle release fee.

Your Cost: $300- $500

4. Attorney and Legal Fees

This is probably the most expensive part of a drunk driving arrest. The exact amount you pay will depend on the details of your case and the experience of the lawyer. But expect to pay a lot in terms of legal fees, bail, retainer fees, and legal counsel.

You may able to save some money by using a public defender to represent you. However the courts will look at your monthly income statement and determine if you can afford to pay for a DUI lawyer. If your income is too high, you’re going to pay for the lawyer out of your own pocket. And that is going to be expensive.

Your Cost : $1500 – $25,000

5. DMV Hearing

One of the consequences of a dui is that your driver’s license will be suspended. If you decide to challenge your drunk driving arrest you will have to schedule a hearing with the DMV. However, you will have to pay for the cost of filing for this hearing.

Your Cost: $150

6. License Reinstatement

To get your driver’s license reinstated you will have to get a restricted driver’s license. For this you will be charged a reinstatement fee.

Your Cost: $120

7. Auto Insurance Increase

Your going to be paying a lot for your DUI car insurance. Your original car insurance is going to be canceled and you will have to purchase a new car insurance policy.

DUI Auto Insurance: Expensive Consequences of Drunk Driving Laws

The cost of your insurance is going to triple and may even be higher. So if right now you are paying $100 a month, you can expect to starting paying between $300 – $500 per month after a drunk driving arrest.

Your Cost: $3,000 – $7,000 increased yearly payment.

DUI Car Insurance: 5 Easy Ways to Save Money After Your Arrests

8. DUI Schools

As part of your DUI fines you will have to attend DUI school. The length of time you have to attend the school depends on high was your BAC. The higher your BAC, the longer you must attend the DUI school. In California, for example, you can get anywhere between 12 hours to 30 months of DUI school.

For a typical DUI school you will be charged for an assessment fee, intervention fee, and cost of materials.

You Cost: $300- $500

9. Ignition Interlock Device

Most states require you to purchase and install and Ignition Interlock Device before reinstating your driver’s license. Once this device is installed in your vehicle you will have to provide a clean breath sample before driving your vehicle.

You will have to pay for the monthly rental fee which ranges from $50-$100. You will also be required to pay for maintenance expenses and the fees for downloading the data from the device.

Your Cost: $730 – $2,800

10. Restitution

You will be held responsible for any damages you cause as a result of your drunk driving. This means you will have to pay for damages public or private properties and personal injuries to another human being. The costs of these damages can easily be over $10,000.

If you injure or kill someone while driving drunk, you will also face criminal charges. Which means more jail time, more lawyers, and more DUI fines.

DUI Criminal Record:2 Ways to Erase Your Drunk Driving Arrest

Bottom Line

DUI fines are expensive. You will need to spend a lot of money in legal fees to avoid getting a conviction or reduce your sentence. If you have been arrested for drunk driving, use the 10 points listed in this article to better understand how much you can expect to pay after your arrest.

DOGS!

We all love our dogs!  And most of us think the world loves our dog also.  Despite that fact, sometimes a gentle and friendly dog can turn protective and bite someone or another animal.

I am handling a case where the dog ran out of the house and bit a child.  The owner of the dog feels very bad and the child had to have stitches.  The owner has been charged with a Class E felony for letting his dog get loose and injure another.

As a dog owner, protect yourself.  Take your dog to obedience class.  This teaches the dog and you how to conduct yourselves in the outside world.  A good obedience teacher will be able to ‘read’ your dog for potentially dangerous behavior.  Plus, the classes are fun and your dog appreciates getting closer to you.

Second, don’t let your dog run loose.  Owners who do this are asking for trouble.  The dog may get run over by a car, it may be attacked by another dog or it may attack a child.  Keep your dog fenced or on a leash when he is outside.

And last, vaccine your dog.  If he does bite someone, you will need to prove he has had a rabies shot.  People tend to get upset after their child has been bitten and proving that you care enough about your animal to ensure he doesn’t have hydrophobia is good.  The animal shelter can tell you who does this for reduced cost if you do not have a veterinarian.

Take care of your dog!  She will love you in return.

 

 

Don’t lose your temper!

We have all experienced it. We lose our temper and we say things we really wished we hadn’t. Friendships are lost, marriages are destroyed and court cases are lost. We then have lots of time to think of what we should have said. Today’s blog is to help with primarily court cases.

When you come to court, your attorney has reminded you to tell the truth. It will set you free and, often, prevent you from looking foolish. Your attorney will warn you of losing your temper when you are being questioned by opposing counsel.  If you lose your temper, critical evidence is often never heard and serious damage done to your case.

Before you walk into the courtroom, remind yourself that no one can make you angry unless you let them.  You hold the power.  No matter how much an opponent may try to confuse and anger you, remember these rules: 1) count to 10.  I read an article on Navy Seals and they use counting as a way to clear their minds, 2) think about the question asked, 3) think what you are going to say, 4) answer in a calm voice.

Is keeping your temper easy?  No.  But the more times you keep your temper, the more wins that will be on your side.

DUI in Tennessee

What Are the Tennessee DUI Laws?

Drinking and driving, also known as “driving under the influence” (DUI), is illegal in Tennessee. The DUI laws in Tennessee have many components including blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits for adults and minors, criminal sentences with jail time and fines, driver’s license revocations, and implied consent to alcohol testing for all drivers.

BAC Limits

Tennessee has a blood alcohol level at which the state presumes the driver is drunk. This is called a “per se” BAC and is set at .08 in Tennessee. In addition, having an extremely high BAC, in Tennessee of .20 or above, can result in enhanced penalties.

For children and adults under the drinking age of 21 years old in Tennessee, the state has a “zero tolerance” policy. If a person under 21 has a BAC of .02 while driving, even if not drunk, the person can be found to have committed a DUI. If a youth (16-20) is found guilty of impaired driving, their license will be revoked for one year, they’ll receive a $250 fine, and the court can impose community service.

Penalties and Sentences

Tennessee has mandatory jail time for first time DUI offenders. At a minimum, offenders will get 48 hours in jail, unless your BAC was .20 or higher, then the minimum is 7 days. However, a first time DUI can give you up to 11 months and 29 days in jail and a $350-$1,500 fine. Your license can be revoked for one year. You’ll have to attend an alcohol and drug treatment program.

A second DUI has a minimum of 45 days in jail (but same almost one year maximum), a mandatory fine of $600-$3,500, license revocation for two years, and once you do get your license back, it’s restricted to going to work, school, court-ordered alcohol programs or interlock device monitoring. Your vehicle can be confiscated starting at your second DUI.

A third DUI offense carries a minimum of 120 days in jail (maximum under one year), $1,100-$10,000 in mandatory fines, and license revocation for 6-10 years with no possibility of getting a restricted license even for necessities like work. Fourth and subsequent DUIs are felonies that will get you a minimum of 365 days in jail and a $3,000-$15,000 mandatory fine, and 8-year license revocation with no restricted license available.

Also, the judge can order restitution to any person you harmed, for any DUI. Additionally, getting a driver’s license after a DUI involves many fees, including a $100 reinstatement fee, $50 for a SR-22 insurance form, plus the usual licensing and vehicle registration fees.

Enhanced Penalties

Enhanced punishments are possible depending on the circumstances. First, “vehicular assault” or causing serious injury to another person due to your impaired driving is a Class D felony subject to 2-12 years in prison, a fine up to $5,000, and 1-5 years of license revocation (depending on prior DUIs). There’s also “vehicular homicide” or killing another person due to your drinking and driving is a Class B felony punishable by 8-30 years in prison and fine up to $25,000, plus license revocation for 3-10 years and no restricted driver’s license. Lastly, “aggravated vehicular homicide” or killing another while drunk driving with at least two prior DUIs, vehicular assaults, or a prior vehicular homicide or one prior DUI and a BAC of .20 is a Class A felony subject to 15-60 years in prison and a fine of up to $50,000.

Getting a DUI with a child under 18 in the car also results in enhanced penalties. Even for a first time DUI where the child wasn’t injured, the minimum jail time is 30 days and minimum fine is $1,000. However, it’s a Class D felony if the child is injured seriously and a Class B felony if the child dies. Sentence length will depend on criminal history and other factors like injuries.

Ignition Interlock Device

A judge can order an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) for even a first-time DUI. Installed at the driver’s expense, IIDs require a sober person to breath into them to start the car. With two DUI convictions in a five-year period, the IID is required for six months after getting your license back.

Implied Consent

If you refuse to submit to a blood alcohol test when requested by a police officer, you can have your driver’s license revoked for one year for the first offense, two years for the second offense, and two years if the crash resulted in bodily injury, even if it’s your first offense. If the crash killed someone and you refused a blood alcohol test, you may have your license revoked for five years. Also, a police officer can testify as to other factors that indicate your intoxication, even if you refuse the test, such as the smell of your breath, visible alcohol containers, your pupils, your speech, etc.

Generally speaking, refusing a blood alcohol test won’t help you avoid the consequences of your drinking and driving. Only not drinking and driving can protect you from these penalties.  In Tennessee, the average spent on a DUI 1st conviction is $4,900.  A cab is a lot cheaper!

Taken from FindLaw.

Helping children when you are getting a divorce

Here is some good advise from WebMD.

 

Breaking up is hard to do, and it may be especially hard for kids. Kids of divorce can feel they’ve been hit the hardest by the end of their parents’ relationship. Some are asked to broker peace between warring exes, even as they are grieving the loss of a parent who has abruptly moved out. Others must deal with parents who suddenly can’t cope with everyday tasks, like making dinner or helping with homework.

Many children carry the battle scars of divorce well into adulthood. But broken-up spouses can help stop the damage by managing their own behavior before the ink dries on the divorce papers. Family and divorce expert M. Gary Neuman, LMHC, gives exes pointers on how to split up without emotionally destroying their kids long term.

1. Don’t make your child the messenger …

“Too many parents attempt to communicate through their children,” Neuman says, “which causes undue emotional stress on them and forces them to negotiate a situation their own parents could not handle. Email is an excellent tool nowadays to communicate with your ex-spouse. It allows you to specifically discuss the practicalities of raising your child without detouring into negative areas and opening old wounds. It also provides a recorded message, admissible into court, so parents tend to be more careful when using it.

“If you want or need to speak with your ex over the phone or in person, be focused and stay on task, and most important, don’t swallow the bait if he or she descends into anger. Simply say, ‘I appreciate your feelings, but I am here to discuss our child’s school assignment.’ Take the high road. Your child’s emotional health depends on it.”

2. … or your therapist.

“Teenagers like to feel in control, and divorce turns their world upside down,” Neuman says. “Don’t fall into the trap of sharing divorce details or your angry feelings about your ex with your older kids. Their own anxiety and need for control causes them to be ‘understanding’ of what you’re going through, but you need to be the parent. Get outside help for yourself, get therapy if necessary, and maintain those boundaries. Making your child your cohort is wrong and does them damage.”

3. Try to “get” your kid.

“Kids need to feel as if they are understood,” Neuman says, and after a divorce their feelings may be in turmoil. “Listen to them. Don’t tell them what to think. And it might be difficult, but never criticize your ex — it’s a criticism of your child, who, of course, is 50% of your ex-husband or wife. Respond specifically to what they are telling you. Say, ‘It sounds like you are feeling sad/mad/upset about meeting your dad’s new girlfriend, is that right?’ As a parent, you don’t have to have a solution. You just need to hear them.

“And don’t editorialize. You can suggest your child write down his feelings and share them with your ex, but only if the child wants to do so. Stay trained on your child’s feelings, not yours. Healing comes through a loving connection and from feeling understood.”

4. Avoid the third degree.

“I tell parents to treat their child’s weekend away with their ex-spouse as if the child has just visited an aunt or uncle,” Neuman says. “Saying nothing will leave your child stressed, as if he must compartmentalize both worlds and tiptoe around this other experience. On the other hand, grilling the child puts him squarely in the middle, which is an impossible position emotionally. So ask your kid fun and general questions, which diffuses tension. And then let it go.”

5. Repair the damage you’ve already done.

Many divorced parents reading these tips may recognize mistakes they’ve unintentionally made with their own kids. Is it ever too late to undo emotional fall-out from a nasty split? “No, children are remarkably forgiving,” Neuman says, “at least until they reach their later teen years, when anger may be more cemented. If you’ve made mistakes, it’s important to do the following:

  • Apologize for them. Saying you’re sorry goes a long way with your kids.
  • Explain in detail exactly what you’ve done wrong, and then commit to changing your behavior from that moment on.
  • Give your child a safe and specific signal — for example, tell your child to raise his or her hand when you begin criticizing your ex — which serves as a time-out for you, telling you in no uncertain terms you’re doing it again and need to stop immediately.”

Adapted from the cover story of WebMD the Magazine‘s February 2009 issue.

Extortion. Watch what you say!

A good article that I saw.  It comes from FreeAdvise staff.

What is extortion?

Extortion is a crime in which one person forces another person to do something against his will, generally to give up money or other property, by threat of violence, property damage, damage to the person’s reputation, or extreme financial hardship. Extortion involves the victim’s consent to the crime, but that consent is obtained illegally.

Examples of Extortion

A classic example of extortion is the “protection” scheme where figures with ties to organized crime demand that shop owners pay for their protection to prevent something bad (such as an assault on the shopkeeper or damage to his or her store or goods) from happening.  Many states also consider blackmail, where a victim is forced to pay someone to prevent them from releasing information that could damage their reputation or their business, to be a form of extortion.

Typically, as in those examples, extortion involves threats of future violence or harm rather than immediate violence or harm, but extortion can involve immediate violence.  For example, it would still be extortion if the offenders in the above example assaulted the shopkeeper to force him to pay them the required protection money instead of threatening to do so in the future. In such cases, extortion becomes very similar to robbery.

Differences Between Extortion and Robbery

One distinction between extortion and robbery is that extortion requires that the offender make a verbal or written threat, while robbery does not.  Since extortion rarely involves immediate harm, however, the crimes typically can be distinguished because a robber uses immediate threats and force to steal the victim’s property, while in extortion, the victim willingly hands over his money or personal property in order to avoid future damage or violence.

Understanding the Degrees of Extortion

All fifty states have varying laws regarding extortion, with most states classifying it as a felony. Some states charge the crime as a theft offense, while others call it “attempted extortion,” “extortion in the first degree,” or “extortion in the second degree.” In the few states that split extortion into degrees, extortion in the first degree usually involves threats of bodily harm or physical confinement, while extortion in the second degree applies to threatening to accuse a person of a crime or to expose a secret.

Penalties for Extortion

Penalties for extortion vary widely in different states and depend on the severity of the threats involved, but sentences generally range between 2 to 4 years. However, many states allow for sentences of 5, 10, or even 20 years. If any instrument of interstate commerce (such as the mail, a phone, or a computer) is used in commission of the crime, it also becomes a federal crime with a fine or sentence of up to 20 years.

Proving Extortion

The specific elements required to prove extortion differ between states, but the general requirements are that the offender maliciously (not mistakenly) make a verbal, written or printed threat with the intent to extort something from the victim or to compel the victim to do something against his or her will. Generally, it is irrelevant whether or not the offender actually succeeds in the attempted extortion. Once the threat is made, the offender has committed extortion. In some jurisdictions, and under the federal extortion definition, the victim does not even have to hear or receive the threat in order for the offender to be charged with extortion.

Extortion does not usually require that the offender threaten to commit a criminal act as long as the threat attempts to obtain money, property, or to force the victim to act against their will. For example, a threat to bring criminal charges or file a police report unless money is paid is still extortion, even though the offender may have every right to file a police report. By coupling the legal act with the illegal act of demanding payment to not act, the offender has committed extortion. Note, however, that a threat to file a civil lawsuit typically is not considered extortion even if that lawsuit is frivolous.

The threat also does not have to be directed at the victim. It is still extortion if the threat is directed towards the victim’s family or if it threatens to release information about some third party the victim seeks to protect.