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Extortion is a criminal offense and is defined as obtaining money or property by threat to a victim’s property or loved ones, intimidation, or false claim of a right. A person will violate the extortion statute in North Carolina (G.S. 14-118.4) if he or she threatens a person with the intent to wrongfully claim something of value, an advantage, immunity, or confirmation of the settlement of a debt.

The statutes about extortion all require that a threat must be made to the person or property of the victim. The threat to harm a person physically, their career, their family, or their reputation is extortion.

For example, an individual can commit extortion by threatening to reveal sensitive information about that person if the person doesn’t pay him money. Perhaps a less obvious example, an individual can commit extortion by threatening to report an alleged crime to the police unless their target pays a sum of money.

Extortion vs. Blackmail

While extortion and blackmail are often used interchangeably, North Carolina has a separate statute for blackmail that distinguishes between the two offenses. An individual violates the blackmail statute (G.S. 14-118) when he or she knowingly send writing with threats, making demands of property from that person, or sends writing that threatens to accuse that person of a crime with the intent to gain some property from that person.


Though North Carolina provides penalties for extortion, extortion is often also punished as a felony offense, which is the most severe category of crime.

  • A person found guilty of extortion is guilty of a Class F felony. In North Carolina, those found guilty of a Class F felony are sentenced to incarceration for 10 to 59months, depending on prior convictions.
  • A person found guilty of blackmail is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by incarceration of 1 to 120 days, depending on prior convictions.

Proof of Extortion

To prove that a person has committed extortion, the following must be shown:

  • The defendant threatened the victim
  • The defendant threatened the victim intending to obtain something from them, ranging from money to advantage, immunity, or an acquittance
  • The defendant intended to get the thing of value wrongfully

Defending Against Extortion

Extortion cases can be contested in court, but in order to do so with success, you’ll need to enlist the help of an experienced criminal defense lawyer. From the legality of the investigation tactics to the credibility of the person making a claim, we can identify the best defense. Possible and popular arguments for extortion include:

  • Challenging the prosecutor’s facts
  • Proving lack of intent
  • Intoxication
  • Duress or necessity

The team at Dysart Willis can help you determine if you have a solid defense for your case.

Contact Us Today

If you’ve been charged with extortion or blackmail, you’ll need someone in your corner. Please contact us at 919-747-8380 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation. A criminal lawyer has the experience and knowledge to handle your case aggressively and ensure you receive a fair trial. No matter the circumstances of your accusation, the attorneys at Dysart Willis, can help.