Coercion and Extortion have similarities, but these crimes have distinct elements that make them unique under the New York Penal Law. Charges of extortion and coercion allege that a defendant has used the threat of property damage or force to compel another person to do something that they would have otherwise not done unless for the threat.
These are serious allegations, and conviction for either extortion or coercion can result in a lengthy prison sentence.
What is Coercion under NY Penal Law?
Coercion in the third degree (NY Penal Law, Section 135.60) occurs when a person is compelled to engage in conduct that the latter has the right to refuse or abstain from. This type of coercion includes using force to compel a person to join a group or organization engaged in a criminal enterprise. Coercion in the third degree is considered a class A misdemeanor, which may result in up to one year in jail or three years’ probation.
Coercion in the second degree (NY Penal Law, Section 135.61) occurs when a person commits coercion in the third degree and compels another person to engage in unlawful sexual conduct. Coercion in the second degree is classified as a class E felony.
Coercion in the first degree (NY Penal Law, Section 135.65) occurs when a defendant compelled another person to commit or attempt to commit a felony or do physical harm to another person. Those convicted of coercion in the first degree may receive prison sentences of up to seven (Class D Felony).
What is Extortion under NY Penal Law?
Extortion is considered a theft offense under New York Penal Law. Under Section 155.05(2)(e), a person commits extortion when he threatens another person to deliver property or money under the threat of public humiliation, damage to personal property or physical violence. Extortion ranges from a Class E Felony to a Class C Felony. For a class C Felony a defendant may be sentenced up to 15 years in jail.
Other types of threats that are considered as forms of extortion are:
- When a victim is accused of having perpetrated a crime and the accused notes that criminal charges shall be filed against the victim unless the accused receives some form of benefit from the victim.
- When an accused threatens to exposing a secret or publicizing an act which would result in ridicule, contempt or hatred unless the accused receives some form of benefit from the victim.
- When an accused threatens to cause a boycott or strike, or any labor group action that will ultimately harm the victims’ business unless the accused receives a benefit from the victim.
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