Under the New York Penal Code a person in New York commits the crime of larceny if they take the property of another intending to deprive that person of the property or intending to keep the property for himself. There are numerous ways larceny can be committed. One of these is by extortion.
Extortion takes place when a person forces another party to give the person property, causing the other party to fear that if this is not done, the person will commit one of the following acts. One is the threat that the person will physically injure the other party in the future. Another is a threat to damage the property. The third is to threaten to commit another crime. The fourth is to threaten to accuse the other party of committing a crime or threatening to cause that party to be charged with a crime.
The fifth is to expose a secret or make public either a true or untrue fact that would inflict upon the party hatred, contempt or ridicule. The sixth is to threaten to cause a strike or boycott that would injure the party’s business except the person is representing a collective labor group and is making a lawful demand on behalf of the group. If the person is a public servant, it is extortion if they take property via the threat that he or she will abuse his or her position by performing or not performing a duty in order to adversely affect the other party. Finally, it is extortion if a person threatens to perform any other act that is meant to cause material harm to the other party’s health, safety, business, career, finances, reputation or personal relationships.
As this shows, while it falls under the umbrella of larceny, the theft crime of extortion can occur in a broad variety of circumstances. What they all have in common, though, is that the party being extorted is placed in fear of the wrongful acts. If this fear is not present, while the taking might still be larceny, it will not specifically be extortion. Of course, this post only presents a brief overview of extortion laws in New York and is not legal advice. Therefore, those who want to learn more about larceny and extortion are encouraged to seek professional guidance.