One not need a JD from Harvard, or any legal degree at all, to recognize that Blackmail and Extortion, fundamentally the same thing, are crimes. Codified in the New York State Penal Law under Article 155, Extortion is a form or means by which a person commits Grand Larceny, a felony. By default, no matter the property type or amount secured by Blackmail in New York, Penal Law 155.30(6) makes any extorter or blackmailer guilty of a class “E” felony upon conviction. If the value of the property secured by the blackmailer is north of $3,000, $50,000 or $1 million, so is the extorter’s exposure to significant lengths of incarceration on greater felonies. Moreover, if violence is part of the extorter’s conduct, the offense level can also be increased.
Sometimes the crime of Extortion is easy to identify, investigate and prosecute. Other times the target is either hard to identify, find or legally pursue within the bounds of the law. Whether you, as a victim, go to Federal, New York State or local law enforcement, or you retain an Extortion lawyer to fend off a wrongdoer so he or she ceases and desists, is your decision. However, the question addressed in this blog entry is potentially a complicated one on its face, but one easily addressed by the law. If you reside in New York, but your blackmailer lives out of state, can her or she still be prosecuted by a District Attorney or can your New York Extortion attorney still attempt to stop your victimizer with a cease and desist letter or other legal means?
In non-lawyer terms, if an incident arises out of New York “touches” New York or has a resulting impact in New York, then New York State has potential jurisdiction over that criminal activity. More specifically, the law is codified in New York Criminal Procedure Law 20.20. In pertinent part, NY CPL 20.20(2) gives New York State jurisdiction where:
(a) The offense committed was a result offense and the result
occurred within this state; or
(b) The statute defining the offense is designed to prevent the
occurrence of a particular effect in this state and the conduct
constituting the offense committed was performed with intent that it
would have such effect herein; or
(c) The offense committed was an attempt to commit a crime within
Taking this a step further, when determining what county or District Attorney would have jurisdiction to prosecute a Grand Larceny Extortion, Blackmail or Coercion, NY CPL 20.40 provides the answer. For example, if an element of the crime occurs in Brooklyn or Manhattan, then those counties could potentially be where a prosecution is commenced.
Assuming the crime is one that is prosecuted from a State criminal statute, as opposed to a Federal criminal statute where state lines would potentially impact venue as opposed to jurisdiction, the next issue you will have to confront is more practical than legal. Do you want to pursue lawful recourse through the police and prosecutors or do yo want to pursue this matter privately through counsel and an investigator? This analysis would ultimately fall on your shoulders to weigh the benefits of each route. Is it prison or jail that you seek? Is this a matter you must make the strongest effort to keep quite? Do you believe that a cease and desist letter, among other legal advocacy, can compel your victimizer to stopping his or her criminal activities?
Again, assuming jurisdiction is not an issue and your extorter’s actions have risen to the criminal level, you must decide the route you follow. In doing so, educate yourself on the law. Understand what constitutes the crimes of Extortion, Blackmail and Coercion. When you have collected enough information take the next step to discuss and vet your case with criminal counsel and an Extortion/Blackmail attorney who can provide you a higher level of insight to make the best decision in your particular case.
To learn more about Extortion, Blackmail and Coercion, as well as the services Saland Law PC offers both victims and defendants of these crimes, review this blog and follow the links contained herein.
Saland Law PC is a New York criminal defense firm founded by two former Manhattan prosecutors. The New York criminal lawyers and Coercion attorneys at Saland Law PC represent clients in all stages and sides of Blackmail, Extortion and Coercion investigations, arrests and prosecutions.