On November 11, 1977, the 42-year old female defendant in this case asked the complainant for ten thousand dollars ($10,000) in exchange for dropping a complaint for rape filed against complainant’s husband. This criminal incident allegedly took place in the courthouse, in a hall outside of a courtroom. Because of this, defendant was charged with attempted grand larceny in the third degree, by extortion, an “A” felony. The defendant moved that the charges be dismissed on the theory that the People had failed to shoulder their evidentiary burden of demonstrating reasonable cause to believe that the defendant committed the criminal offense charged.
Under the law, grand larceny is committed when a person steals property and when the property, regardless of its nature and value, is obtained by extortion. Larceny by extortion is further defined by law as follows: “A person obtains property by extortion when he compels or induces another person to deliver such property to himself or to a third person by means of instilling in him a fear that, if the property is not so delivered, the actor or another” will do any of the nine (9) specific instances delineating the nature of the threat or type of intimidation by which the larceny is intended to be performed.
One of these instances includes the following act: “to testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense.” This is the kind of threat that possibly or remotely applies to the facts of this case because of the allegations that defendant asked for money in exchange for withholding her claim against the complainant’s husband.
Based on commentaries, it was also said that extortion in its true sense is nothing more than a wrongful acquisition of property (by intimidation) with larcenous intent and that the degree of the larceny by extortion is determined not alone by the value of the property obtained, but also by the fact of intimidation and the kind of threat employed.
Under the former criminal law, extortion is the obtaining of property from another, or obtaining the property of a corporation from an officer, agent or employee thereof, with his consent, induced by a wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right. Under the current statute, the terminology “wrongful use of force or fear” has been deleted. Thus, it could be argued that the gravamen of the felony now requires the instilling of a fear by the use of a threat, innuendo, or otherwise, rather than by the exploitation of a previously existing fear.
In this case, the court found that It may well be, that the conversation herein implied a threat. The statute, nevertheless, requires more than this. To constitute a threat, the conversation must, “instill in (the victim) a fear”. During trial, the complainant testified that the defendant asked her to pay for $10,000 to drop the case against the complainant’s husband, but complainant told her that “she wasn’t gonna give her no money”. The court said that the complainant’s testimony negates the requisite element of intimidation or fear that is required. It further ruled that viewed in a light most favorable to the people, it may well be, that the conversation herein implied a threat. The statute, nevertheless, requires more than this. To constitute a threat, the conversation must, “instill in (the victim) a fear”. Hence, the court decided in favor of the defendant, her motion was granted and the complaint against her dismissed.
You or any of your acquaintances may also fall victim to extortions, and it can be quite a troubling experience. You might find yourself helpless from the threats of extortionists who are usually in position or power. If such is the case, you will need the aid of competent and audacious Bronx County Grand Larceny Lawyers who will not buckle in the face of perils. Stephen Bilkis and Associates has a pool of fearless Bronx County Grand Larceny Attorneys who can help you in the prosecution of these cases.