Advice from a Lawyer if You’re Facing Federal Extortion Charges
Being charged with a federal crime can be an overwhelming and scary experience. Extortion charges in particular carry potentially serious penalties, so having an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer on your side is crucial. As your lawyer, I’m here to provide advice and legal guidance to help you navigate this difficult situation.
Understanding the Charges
The first step is to understand exactly what you’ve been charged with. Extortion is making threats to expose information or take actions in order to obtain money, property or services from someone. Under federal law, charges often fall under 18 U.S. Code § 875 – relating to transmitting threats via interstate communications.
The key elements prosecutors must prove are:
- You transmitted a communication containing a threat to injure a person, property, or reputation. This could be a phone call, email, text message, or other communication.
- The communication crossed state lines or utilized interstate facilities like mail or internet servers. This makes it a federal matter.
- You acted with intent to extort – meaning to obtain something of value from the recipient of the threat.
- The recipient experienced reasonable fear that you would carry out the threat.
The punishment relies on how the offense is charged but can range from 1-5 years imprisonment, fines, or both. So these are very serious allegations that require an aggressive defense.
Building Your Defense Strategy
As your attorney, my job is to carefully analyze the prosecution’s evidence and build the strongest defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed. Some potential strategies include:
- Contesting intent – Showing you did not actually intend to extort or carry out threats when you made the statements.
- Challenging fear – Arguing the alleged victim did not experience reasonable fear or apprehension of harm.
- Questioning transmission – Disputing whether you actually utilized interstate communications to transmit the threats.
- First Amendment – Asserting your statements were protected free speech under the First Amendment, not true threats.
- Mental health – Raising mental health defenses if relevant, like showing you lacked criminal intent due to mental illness.
I will thoroughly investigate your case and interview witnesses to determine which defenses are viable. My goal is to cast doubt on the prosecution’s ability to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Plea Bargaining Options
If the evidence against you is too strong, we may need to consider negotiating a plea bargain rather than going to trial. This involves pleading guilty in exchange for reduced charges or a lighter sentence.
Potential options I would explore include:
- Pleading to a misdemeanor – Reducing the charges from a felony to a federal misdemeanor. This carries lower penalties.
- Sentencing recommendations – Agreeing to a sentencing recommendation from prosecutors for the low end of the guidelines range.
- Pre-trial diversion – Entering a diversion program in which charges are dismissed after completing rehabilitation, community service, or other requirements.
I will leverage my relationships with prosecutors to fight for the most favorable deal possible if we need to go this route. My #1 goal is minimizing the penalties you face.
What to Expect at Trial
If we cannot get your charges dropped or reduced through plea bargaining, we will take your case to trial. My team and I have extensive experience arguing federal criminal trials. Key steps include:
- Jury selection – Picking jurors most likely to view your case favorably. I will conduct thorough voir dire.
- Opening statement – Explaining our core defense theory and highlighting flaws in the prosecution’s case.
- Cross-examination – Aggressively questioning the prosecution’s witnesses to undermine their credibility and testimony.
- Direct examination – Building up our own witnesses to support your defense.
- Closing argument – Convincing the jury the prosecution failed to meet their burden of proof to convict you.
I will fight tirelessly in the courtroom to show the jury reasonable doubt exists and that you should be found not guilty.
If you are convicted after trial, or choose to plead guilty, I will advocate for the lowest possible sentence. Strategies for mitigation include:
- Minimizing your role – Emphasizing you played a minor role in the offense if others were also involved.
- Highlighting positives – Bringing forth evidence of your good character, lack of criminal history, family obligations, employment, charitable deeds and other positives.
- Remorse and responsibility – Showing the judge you take responsibility for your actions and are sincerely remorseful.
- Health considerations – Raising any mental or physical health issues that require treatment, not incarceration.
- Alternatives to prison – Advocating for home confinement, community service or probation rather than imprisonment.
My goal is convincing the judge that incarceration is unnecessary and counterproductive given your specific circumstances. I will humanize you and fight for the most lenient sentence possible.