The ruby slippers from the "Wizard of Oz" film recently resurfaced after being stolen from the Judy Garland Museum in 2005. For more than a decade, law enforcement in Minnesota has been receiving bizarre tips pertaining to the whereabouts of the ruby slippers. Finally, in July, the Grand Rapids police received a tip that proved true and the ruby slippers were recovered. To add to the mystery around the ruby slippers, the FBI has “uncovered a recent scheme to extort and defraud the insurance company that now owns the slippers.”
Extortion in Washington
In Washington, extortion means "knowingly to obtain or attempt to obtain by threat property or services of the owner, and specifically includes sexual favors.” An attempt, whether successful or not, to force someone to give up something that belongs to them or to force sexual services through threat of violence or harm, is extortion. In Washington law, there are two levels of extortion: extortion in the first degree and extortion in the second degree.
Washington: Extortion in the first degree
A person is guilty of extortion in the first degree if he or she commits extortion by means of a threat defined” below:
- A threat to “cause bodily injury in the future to the person threatened or to any other person; or
- To cause physical damage to the property of a person other than the actor; or
- To subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint.”
Where the law pertaining to extortion states "threat" it is that the threat “means to communicate, directly or indirectly the intent” of the person committing extortion. Extortion in the first degree is a class B felony.
Washington: Extortion in the second degree
Alternatively, “a person is guilty of extortion in the second degree if he or she commits extortion by means of” wrongfully threatening:
- "To accuse any person of a crime or cause criminal charges to be instituted against any person; or
- To expose a secret or publicize an asserted fact, whether true or false, tending to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule; or
- To reveal any information sought to be concealed by the person threatened; or
- To testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another's legal claim or defense; or
- To take wrongful action as an official against anyone or anything, or wrongfully withhold official action, or cause such action or withholding; or
- To bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other similar collective action to obtain property which is not demanded or received for the benefit of the group which the actor purports to represent; or
- To do any other act which is intended to harm substantially the person threatened or another with respect to his or her health, safety, business, financial condition, or personal relationships."
Extortion in the second degree is a lesser charge than extortion in the first degree, but still a very serious class C felony.
Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi for Serious Charges
Extortion is a very serious crime and carries very serious penalties, including jail time, fines, or a combination of the two. If you or a loved one has been charged with extortion in the Seattle area, you must seek legal counsel immediately. Steve Karimi is a former prosecutor who is now a top-rated criminal defense attorney in the Seattle area. Mr. Karimi now uses his insight into prosecution strategies to fight for the rights of those accused. Contact the Law Offices of Steve Karimi today.