In 1994, the Colorado Legislature changed the Extortion statute, 18-3-207, after the Colorado Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional in Whimbush v. People, 869 P.2d 1245 (Colo 1994). Today, this very carefully worded statute is used to prosecute bill collectors, whistle blowers, and the occasional gangster.
Two Main Categories of Extortion
The Colorado Extortion statute is divided into two separate categories, Criminal Extortion and Aggravated Criminal Extortion. If a Douglas County dentist calls one of his deadbeat patients and says, “you better pay me or I am going to ruin you financially,” he might be charged with Criminal Extortion. If an Arapahoe or Denver County plumber tells one of her customers that if she is not paid she will send Guido over and he will shoot the customer – with a gun, the plumber will likely be charged with Aggravated Criminal Extortion. The difference is if the actor threatens someone with a weapon. The statute includes the following items: chemical, biological, or harmful radioactive agents, weapons, or poison. Read the formal definition of Extortion.
Immigration Threats can be Construed as Extortion
There is another specific way a person can be charged with Criminal Extortion which has earned its own paragraph in the Extortion statute. If someone threatens to report the immigration status of another person in order to get money or anything of value, it is considered Criminal Extortion. This section of the statute does not apply to any other illegal activity, just illegal immigration. That is why it is important for any person who is going to report the illegal immigration status of someone else be certain there is no basis for the accusation that the report is blackmailing another.
Real World Examples of Colorado Extortion
Movies and television often depict extortionists and blackmailers as the villain who carefully sets up a helpless victim, and then preys on their misfortune. While this can be the case, in real life we also see good people in Douglas and Jefferson County who have first been cheated by others. After taking money or services from someone, the debtor files a complaint with the police stating the creditor is making threats. Unfortunately, sometimes the so called “victim” is believed. We all hope that police and prosecutors would not file charges without more evidence than the word of a con artist, but it does not always happen that way, and that’s where a good criminal defense attorney comes in.
If you have been accused of Criminal Extortion or Aggravated Criminal Extortion in Clear Creek or Denver County, you should take it very seriously. Do not risk your future by fighting it alone. If convicted, this class 4 felony can have a devastating impact on your life. At the O’Malley Law Office, we are dedicated to providing you with the best possible defense. So, always be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.