Extortion and robbery are similar because both are essentially crimes of theft: they both include unlawful takings. They are not, however, exactly the same. New York and federal law include important differences between the two.
Generally speaking, extortion is the crime of soliciting and obtaining money, property, or services by threat of force. Common examples include blackmail (extortion by private individuals as opposed to by public officeholders) and protection rackets (in which the perpetrators gain valuables by threatening violence and then charging “fees” for protection against the very same violence that they just threatened). If there is no threat, then it cannot be extortion.
In a robbery, theft can be accomplished by immediate force. Robbers throw punches, wield knives or guns, or even stab or shoot on the spot. They don’t threaten to harm their victims’ families in a few weeks or their businesses within the year – they use force immediately.
Another important distinction focuses on the way in which the victim parts with his money/property/services. Extortion victims voluntarily but unwillingly hand over their possessions, while robbery victims actually have their things taken from them.
Legally, New York classifies robbery as either a class B, C, or D felony, depending on the type of weapon used, degree of harm inflicted, and number of co-felons involved. Extortion is not labeled “extortion” under New York law, but is rather a specific type of grand larceny. Extortion is usually either a class C or E felony.
Both extortion and robbery are serious crimes that can lead to expensive fines and even lengthy prison terms. If you think you may have an issue with extortion in New York City, call our expert New York City defense attorneys at 212-577-6677 for a confidential consultation. A strong defense is possible, and could begin today.