The word “theft” seems to imply an element of secrecy (as in one stealing something without another knowing it). Transactions conducted in the broad daylight certainly would not fall under this category. Yet that is where you could be wrong. Several clients have come to members of our team here at Neil S. Ruskin Attorney at Law accused of engaging in an activity many may not normally associate with theft: extortion. When you conduct your business, there may be times when circumstances dictate that you “play hardball” with those you are negotiating with. The question then becomes when might tactics cross the line and be considered criminal.
Section 155.05 of New York’s Penal Law defines extortion as you compelling a person to deliver property to you by instilling a fear that, if said property is not delivered, you could potentially:
- Injure said person (or another party) in the immediate future
- Damage said person’s own property
- Accuse said person of a crime (or provoke charges to be filed against them)
- Expose or publicize information (whether true or false) that could bring contempt and/or ridicule down on said party
- Create a strike or boycott that could be injurious to said party’s own business
- Offer up information in a legal matter that could be damaging to said person
Threatening to abuse any powers afforded to you through a public office pending the exchange of property might also qualify as extortion, as can any act that authorities may view as being criminal.
Notice how nothing is said about taking a firm stance on an issue or being unwilling to negotiate a certain point. These may be perfectly acceptable practices, even if the partner in your transaction does not agree with them. More information on answering accusations of extortion can be found here on our site.