Extortion – the unlawful taking by an officer of the law, by color of his office, of any money or thing of value not due to him, or taking more than is due, or taking it before it is due

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n. (14c)

1. Oppression under color or right; the criminal offense of obtaining money or other valuable thing by compulsion, actual force, or force of motives applied to the will; more technically defined as the unlawful taking by an officer of the law, by color of his office, of any money or thing of value that is not due to him, or the taking of more than is due, or the taking of money before it is due.  Bush v State, 19 Ariz 195, 168 P 508; 31 Am J2d Extort § 1.

A method of abuse of process.  1 Am J2d Abuse P § 12. [1]

1. The criminal offense of obtaining money or other thing of value by duress, force, threat of force, fear, or color of office.
     See also coercion; duress; intimidation. [2]

1. The offense committed by a public official who illegally obtains property under the color of office; especially, an official’s collection of an unlawful fee.— aka common-law extortion. [3]

    Excerpt from Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce’s Criminal Law (3d ed. 1982):

     “The dividing line between bribery and extortion is shadowy.  If one other than the officer corruptly takes the initiative and offers what he knows is not an authorized fee, it is bribery and not extortion.  On the other hand, if the officer corruptly makes an unlawful demand which is paid by one who does not realize it is not the fee authorized for the service rendered,’it is extortion and not bribery.  In theory it would seem possible for an officer to extort a bribe under such circumstances that he would be guilty of either offense whereas the outraged citizen would be excused. [4]

2. The act or practice of obtaining something or compelling some action by illegal means, as by force or coercion. — aka statutory extortion. — extortionate, adj. [3]

     Excerpt from James Lindgren’s “Blackmail and Extortion,” in Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice (Sanford H. Kadish ed., 1983):

     “The distinction traditionally drawn between robbery by intimidation and blackmail or extortion is that a person commits robbery when he threatens to do immediate bodily harm, whereas he commits blackmail or extortion when he threatens to do bodily harm in the future. [5]

Federal Laws against Extortion:

18 U.S.C. § 872 – Extortion by officers or employees of the United States

Related Terms:

extort vb. (15c) 1. To commit the offense of extortion. [1] 1. To compel or coerce (a confession, etc.) by means that overcome one’s power to resist.  2. To gain by wrongful methods; to obtain in an unlawful manner; to exact wrongfully by threat or intimidation.extortive, adj. [3]

 extorsively – With intent to commit the crime of extortion. Leeman v State, 35 Ark 438.

Extortio est crimen quando quis colore officii extorquet quod non est debitum, vel supra debitum, vel ante tempus quod est debitum – Extortion is a crime when anyone under color of office extorts that which is not due, or more than is due, or before the time when it is due.


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[1]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations Third Edition by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[2]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.

[3]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black, Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-61300-4

[4]: Rollin M. Perkins & Ronald N. Boyce, Criminal Law 538 (3d ed. 1982).

[5]: James Lindgren, “Blackmail and Extortion,” in 1 Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice 115, 115 (Sanford H. Kadish ed., 1983).


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