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The United States penal code governs federal criminal regulations. The Hobbs Act, which was passed in 1946, is a law that prohibits robbery or extortion that affects international or interstate commerce. Since the crime concerns other countries or multiple states, it falls into federal jurisdiction instead of state. Under the Hobbs Act, people can also be charged with attempting to use fear or force to commit a crime, even if they are not successful in the attempt.
At the time it was passed, the bill was addressing the racketeering that happened during labor disputes. This isn’t as common nowadays as it was back then. There are some rare cases when the charge is used when a person is suspected of union corruption, but prosecutors are much more likely to use the statute to prosecute commercial disputes and public corruption.
Public officials are not allowed to acquire property by using their status to force others to give them the property. In addition, no one is allowed to make threats of violence or force to gain property.
If someone is suspected of violating the Hobbs Act, the case is investigated by the FBI. They will compile the evidence and work with the US Attorney’s Office to bring a case against the defendant. If you have been accused of committing extortion or robbery, you need to get a skilled defense lawyer immediately.
When the Hobbs Act is involved in the charges, the situation becomes even more serious. Most people aren’t familiar with the Hobbs Act because they never expect to need to know how to mediate labor disputes and corruption issues.
According to the Hobbs Act, if you are the subject of an extortion or robbery charge, your sentence can become much more severe if it interrupted interstate commerce. You can be charged with robbery if you took their property through use of force or violence with no consent. Extortion is the charge used if you obtained consent, but only because the victim was too afraid to say no.
Every case of extortion is different. There have been cases that include additional charges of conspiracy, robbery, murder, assault, and attempted murder. Any act of violence that occurred during the situation might be charged as its own crime.
To prove a violation, the prosecutor has to provide hard evidence that the defendant committed certain elements of the crime. The jury cannot have any reasonable doubt that every aspect of the crime was committed. If the prosecutor is unable to prove every element, they might drop the charges to something smaller and more easily provable.
These are the things that the prosecutor must prove about the case:
If a prosecutor can prove everything except the last bit, they might charge the person with extortion without the Hobbs Act.
You also don’t need to prove that a person made actual threats. If the person is a public official, the prosecutor can prove that they used their position for intimidation or fear. For example, they might imply that they have the power to get someone’s family deported, which would be a fear tactic.
The punishment for violating this piece of legislation is a maximum of 20 years in prison. In addition, you will have to pay a fine that the court determines.
If you are going to defend yourself against this charge, you have to make a case that you have not committed every element of the crime. You might end up admitting to a lesser crime and taking a plea deal instead. A defense attorney will review your case and build a strategy based on your unique situation.
Some potential defenses to the Hobbs Act include:
It is very difficult to prove a Hobbs Act violation because of the amount of evidence needed. A prosecutor needs to tell a compelling story that cannot be doubted or disproven. You will likely have the opportunity to plead guilty to a lesser charge instead of going to trial.
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