Nevada extortion law mandates hefty fines and lengthy prison sentences irrespective of whether the threat is carried out or whether anyone gets hurt. Furthermore, a conviction can mar your criminal record for years and cause you to be passed over for employment.
Keep reading to learn the basics of the Nevada offense of extortion. And if you've been accused of extortion in or around Clark County, call our Las Vegas criminal lawyers at 702-DEFENSE for a free consultation to discuss your options and how we may help fight your case.
Legal definition of "extortion" in Nevada
The legal definition of extortion in Las Vegas, Nevada is when a person, with the intent to gain money or property or to influence a public officer or to do any wrongful act, threatens to:
- accuse any person of a crime, or
- injure a person or property, or
- publish any libel, or
- expose or impute to any person any deformity or disgrace, or
- expose any secret.
Extortion (also called blackmail in Nevada) is therefore a very broad crime that may apply to any situation where a person wrongfully threatens another person to try to obtain something of value. A recent example of extortion was when a former television producer threatened David Letterman to sell a screenplay detailing his sexual infidelity unless David Letterman paid him two million dollars.
Extortion is a different crime from Nevada bribery law: Whereas extortion is when Person A threatens Person B in order to make B do something for A or give A money, bribery is when Person A offers Person B something of value to persuade B to do something for A in return. For example:
Extortion: John threatens to burn down Joe's house unless Joe pays John money.
Bribery: John offers Joe to pay him a thousand dollars if Joe will vote for John in an election.
Since extortion is a federal crime as well, prosecutors may elect to bring extortion charges in federal court instead of state court. (18 U.S. 875(d))
Which defenses would prove most effective in a particular Las Vegas extortion case depend on the particular facts. The following are some of the more common strategies your attorney may use when fighting extortion charges in Nevada.
- No intent. Since extortion is an intent crime in Nevada, you can't be convicted of it if the prosecution fails to prove that you intentionally threatened someone in order to obtain something that's not yours.
- Legitimate offer. Because extortion covers such a wide variety of behaviors, police and prosecutors often mistake a legitimate contractual offer for something criminal. If the state can't show that your actions rose to the level of extortion, the charges should be dismissed.
- Lack of evidence, false accusations, or consent. Remember that no judge or jury may convict someone of any crime unless they believe the prosecution proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If your attorney can show that the state's evidence is too weak to support a guilty verdict or that you were falsely accused or that the "victim" gave his/her consent, then the case should be dismissed.
Violating Las Vegas extortion law is a category B felony in Nevada. The standard punishment includes:
- 1 - 10 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines, and
Note that penalties are slightly different in cases involving "extortionate collection for debt" in Nevada (NRS 205.322). This applies only to situations where someone causes a debtor to reasonably fear that not repaying their debt could result in physical injury to themselves or another person or damage to their property. The sentence includes:
- 1 - 6 years in prison and/or up to $10,000 in fines, and
We're here for you . . . .
If you've been arrested for the Nevada crime of extortion (NRS 205.320), please call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE for a free consultation. Our goal is to try to get your charges reduced or dismissed, and if you wish we will take your case all the way to trial as well.
To learn about California extortion law, go to our page on California extortion law.