No one is a stranger to the concept of blackmail and the making of threats. In the Criminal Code, this is known as extortion. Extortion is the act of making threats, accusations or inflicting violence in order to induce someone to do something. Despite this simple definition, extortion is a complex offense and can cover a wide range of activities and behaviours. This not only includes violent acts committed by criminals, but can also extend to verbal intimidation made by professionals.
What You Should Know
Because there can be many different types of extortion, it is good to know when a situation is legally considered to be extortion. It largely depends on the circumstances. The following are some facts and scenarios of extortion you should know:
- The threats being made do not need to be unlawful themselves. For example, in the case of someone threatening to send incriminating letters to an employer in exchange for money, the act of sending letters is not illegal in itself, but the situation can be considered as extortion.
- The threat of a lawsuit itself does not count as a threat or extortion.
- However, threatening criminal charges would be extortion.
- If you make a threat and are not successful in getting what you want done, it can still be defined as extortion.
- If you are entitled to the thing being demanded (such as legitimately being owed money), that is still not a reasonable justification for making unlawful (violent) threats. It is still considered extortion.
- Blackmail threats do not have to be related to violence in order to be considered extortion, in which case it becomes a civil dispute, rather than a criminal one.
- Threats may still be defined as extortion even if the harm or threat is carried out by someone else.
Canadian penalties for extortion range from a minimum of 4-5 years, in cases where a firearm is used, to a maximum of life in prison. In the case of second and subsequent convictions, the sentence is 7 years.
Cases of Extortion And Drug Trafficking In Canada
All extortion cases are unique and incur different penalties and rulings depending on the case and the offense. For example, a former jail correctional officer from Headingley Correctional Centre was accused of and admitted to smuggling drugs for prisoners in order to extort sexual favors between 2008 and 2009. Both crown and defense recommended 3 years in prison for the offense.
Extortion and drug related cases can also commonly involve the exposure of personal or private information. This was the case with Alexander Lisi, long time friend of the late Rob Ford. Lisi was charged in 2013 with extortion in an attempt to recover the infamous video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine. Due to a lack of cooperation from the men Lisi was accused of threatening, the Crown later dropped the extortion charges against him.
Extortion is usually tied to a number of other offences in addition to drug related offences. Because of this, an accused individual can be prosecuted on all related offences. Back in 2007, as part of an investigation by the RCMP, Winnipeg police and Brandon police of suspected drug dealers in Manitoba, one Hells Angels member was convicted of trafficking cocaine, crystal methamphetamine and for extortion. All sentences of drug trafficking were to be served concurrently before he could serve his sentence for extortion, in which he was caught threatening a police agent with violence to pay a $60,000 drug debt.
If you have been accused or charged with the offence yourself, contact OMQ Law immediately. The lawyers at OMQ Law can help make sense of your case.