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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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Understanding Federal Crime of Blackmail and Extortion – 18 U.S.C. § 873

By Spodek Law Group | February 13, 2023

Understanding Federal Crime of Blackmail and Extortion – 18 U.S.C. § 873

Have you ever wondered what constitutes the federal crime of “blackmail” or “extortion”? Well, most people are familiar with the terms but don’t really know the details of the crime. In this section, we’ll explore this topic in depth and look at specific cases to help illustrate how the crime is prosecuted.

In simpler terms, the federal crime of extortion is making threats that will harm the victim in some way unless they give you something of value, such as money. The crime of extortion has become more commonly known as blackmail.

18 U.S.C. § 873 describes a specific subset of blackmail or extortion that is a federal offense. It provides penalties for any person who demands or receives money or something of value made under threats of informing or consideration for not informing against violations of federal laws. This statute is enforced by the United States Department of Justice, and if found guilty, offenders could face up to one year in federal prison or a fine, or both prison and a fine.

Case Examples of a Federal Extortion Offense

To illustrate the crime of blackmail or extortion, let’s consider a hypothetical situation. Suppose a highly-connected financial firm executive discovers his supervisor is involved in an illegal financial insider trading practice that violates federal law. Instead of reporting the illegal behavior, the supervisor decides to blackmail the executive for money.

In this scenario, the supervisor sends an email to the executive demanding $50,000 in exchange for their silence on reporting the illegal activity. Even though the supervisor did not receive the money, they violated 18 U.S.C. § 873, attempting to extort $50,000 from the victim.

Now let’s imagine the employee isn’t interested in receiving money from his supervisor. Rather than demanding $50,000, the employee makes threats to expose the supervisor’s illegal activity unless he voluntarily turns himself in to federal authorities. However, the supervisor thinks they are bluffing and refuses to do so.

As a result, the employee makes a report to federal agents. In this scenario, there was no blackmail or extortion crime, even though the employee did make threats to expose violations of federal law. The reason being that there was no connection to a demand for money or anything of value.

Penalties for 18 U.S.C. § 873 Blackmail or Extortion

It is crucial to note that anyone found guilty of the federal crime of blackmail or extortion under 18 U.S.C. § 873 could face severe consequences. The punishment could be up to one year in federal prison, a fine, or both prison and a fine.

It’s essential to note that the sentence will vary depending on the specific details of the case and factors under the United States Sentencing Guidelines and 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a). Therefore, a defendant will be subjected to broad discretion afforded to a federal sentencing judge.

If you’re facing charges of blackmail or extortion, the best thing you can do is contact a skilled federal criminal defense attorney who has experience in these cases. At Spodek Law Group, we have years of experience in defending clients who have been charged with extortion and blackmail.

Getting Help from a Federal Criminal Defense Attorney

Federal criminal investigations are complex, and it’s essential to get help from an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Our lawyers can negotiate with the federal prosecutor on a pre-indictment resolution, negotiate a plea deal after a criminal filing, or litigate your case in a federal jury trial. With the right legal representation, you may be able to obtain a sentence that doesn’t include imprisonment through sentencing alternatives like community

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