Duhaime's Law Dictionary


Extortion Definition:

Forcing a person to give up property in a thing through the use of violence, fear or under pretense of authority.

Related Terms: Blackmail

In Shoppee, Justice Collins wrote:

"Extortion ... was a misdemeanor at common law. Extortion is defined to be in a large sense, any oppression under colour of right. In a strict sense, the taking of money by any officer by colour of his office, either where none at all is due or not so much is due, or where it is not yet due.

"It seems quite clear that the crime of extortion was not committed unless some improper motive, or at all events intention, to do the wrong actually done was proved."

In the USA, Justice Gilbert used these words in Daniels:

"Extortion is the taking or obtaining of anything from another by means of ilegal compulsion or oppressive exaction, and the term implies that the money paid was extorted on the part of the one who received it, and was paid unwillingly by the one who paid it.

"The distinction between bribery and extortion seems to be that the former offense consists in offering a present or receiving one, the latter in demanding a fee or present by colour of office."

In Canada, the 2008 version of the Criminal Code prohibits extortion as set out at §346(1):

"Every one commits extortion who, without reasonable justification or excuse and with intent to obtain anything, by threats, accusations, menaces or violence induces or attempts to induce any person, whether or not he is the person threatened, accused or menaced or to whom violence is shown, to do anything or cause anything to be done."

In R v Davis, Chief Justice lamer of Canada's Supreme Court wrote, in 1999:

"Extortion criminalizes intimidation and interference with freedom of choice. It punishes those who, through threats, accusations, menaces, or violence induce or attempt to induce their victims into doing anything or causing anything to be done. Threats, accusations, menaces and violence clearly intimidate. When threats are coupled with demands, there is an inducement to accede to the demands. This interferes with the victim's freedom of choice, as the victim may be coerced into doing something he or she would otherwise have chosen not to do."

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