Criminal Law

1830. Extortion by Threat or Force

The defendant is charged [in Count ______] with extortion by (threat/ [or] force).

To prove that the defendant is guilty of this crime, the People must prove that:

<Alternative 1A—threatened to injure or used force>

[1. The defendant (threatened to unlawfully injure/ [or] used force against) (another person or a third person/ [or] the property of another person or a third person);]

<Alternative 1B—threatened to accuse of crime>

[1. The defendant threatened to accuse another person[, or that person's relative or family member,] of a crime;]

<Alternative 1C—threatened to expose secret>

[1. The defendant threatened to expose a secret about another person[, or that person's relative or family member,] [or to expose or connect (him/her/any of them) with a (disgrace[,]/ [or] crime[,]/ [or] deformity)];]

2. When (making the threat/ [or] using force), the defendant intended to use that (fear/ [or] force) to obtain the other person's consent (to give the defendant money [or property]/ [or] to do an official act);

3. As a result of the (threat/ [or] use of force), the other person consented (to give the defendant money [or property]/ [or] to do an official act);


4. As a result of the (threat/ [or] use of force), the other person then (gave the defendant money [or property]/ [or] did an official act).

The term consent has a special meaning here. Consent for extortion can be coerced or unwilling, as long as it is given as a result of the wrongful use of force or fear.

The (threat/use of force) must be the controlling reason that the other person consented. If the person consented because of some other controlling reason, the defendant is not guilty of extortion.

[Threatening to do something that a person has a legal right to do is not a threat to commit an unlawful injury.]

[The threat may involve harm to be inflicted by the defendant or by someone else.]

[An official act is an act that a person does in his or her official capacity, using the authority of his or her public office.]

[A secret is a fact that:

1. Is unknown to the general public or to someone who might be interested in knowing the fact;


2. Harms the threatened person's reputation or other interest so greatly that he or she would be likely to (give the defendant money[or property]/[or] do an official act) to prevent the fact from being revealed.]

Bench Notes

Instructional Duty

The court has a sua sponte duty to give this instruction defining the elements of the crime. (See People v. Hesslink (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 781, 788-790 [213 Cal.Rptr. 465].)

Depending on the evidence, in element 1, give the appropriate alternative A-C describing the threat. (Pen. Code, § 519.)

Related Instructions

For an instruction on the crime of kidnapping for ransom, reward, or extortion, see CALCRIM No. 1202, Kidnapping: for Ransom, Reward, or Extortion.


Elements. Pen. Code, §§ 518, 519; People v. Hesslink (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 781, 789 [213 Cal.Rptr. 465].

Specific Intent Required. People v. Hesslink (1985) 167 Cal.App.3d 781, 789-790 [213 Cal.Rptr. 465].

Felony Punishment. Pen. Code, § 520.

Property Defined. Pen. Code, § 7 (10) and (12); see People v. Baker (1978) 88 Cal.App.3d 115, 119 [151 Cal.Rptr. 362] [includes right to file administrative protest]; People v. Cadman (1881) 57 Cal. 562, 564 [includes right to prosecute appeal]; People v. Kozlowski (2002) 96 Cal.App.4th 853, 869 [117 Cal.Rptr.2d 504] [includes PIN code].

Coerced Consent. People v. Goodman (1958) 159 Cal.App.2d 54, 61 [323 P.2d 536]; People v. Peck (1919) 43 Cal.App. 638, 645 [185 P. 881].

Force or Fear Must Be Controlling Cause. People v. Goodman (1958) 159 Cal.App.2d 54, 61 [323 P.2d 536].

Official Act Defined. See People v. Mayfield (1997) 14 Cal.4th 668, 769-773 [60 Cal.Rptr.2d 1, 928 P.2d 485] [kidnapping for extortion]; People v. Norris (1985) 40 Cal.3d 51, 55-56 [219 Cal.Rptr. 7, 706 P.2d 1141] [same].

Secret Defined. People v. Lavine (1931) 115 Cal.App. 289, 295 [1 P.2d 496].

Threat of Harm by Third Person. People v. Hopkins (1951) 105 Cal.App.2d 708, 709-710 [233 P.2d 948].

Unlawful Injury Defined. People v. Schmitz (1908) 7 Cal.App. 330, 369-370 [94 P. 407].

Wrongful Defined. People v. Beggs (1918) 178 Cal. 79, 83-84 [172 P. 152].

Secondary Sources

2 Witkin & Epstein, California Criminal Law (3d ed. 2000) Crimes Against Property, §§ 103-108.

6 Millman, Sevilla & Tarlow, California Criminal Defense Practice, Ch. 143, Crimes Against Property, § 143.02 (Matthew Bender).

Lesser Included Offenses

Attempted Extortion. Pen. Code, § 524; see People v. Sales (2004) 116 Cal.App.4th 741, 748-749 [10 Cal.Rptr.3d 527]; People v. Franquelin (1952) 109 Cal.App.2d 777, 783-784 [241 P.2d 651]; Isaac

v. Superior Court (1978) 79 Cal.App.3d 260, 263 [146 Cal.Rptr. 396]; People v. Lavine (1931) 115 Cal.App. 289, 297 [1 P.2d 496].

Related Issues

No Defense of Good Faith

A good faith belief in the right to property does not negate the specific intent required for extortion. A debt cannot be collected by extortion. (People v. Beggs (1918) 178 Cal. 79, 84 [172 P. 152]; see People v. Serrano (1992) 11 Cal.App.4th 1672, 1677-1678 [15 Cal.Rptr.2d 305] [kidnapping for ransom].)

(New January 2006)