Threats/Extortion

  1. Introduction

    A person who publishes or threatens to publish intimate photos or videos of another with the intention of forcing the victim into conduct the victim would not have otherwise performed may be charged with extortion.

  2. Text of Statute

    1) Fla. Stat. § 836.05 – Threats; extortion Whoever, either verbally, or by a written or printed communication, maliciously threatens to accuse another of any crime or offense, or by such communication maliciously threatens an injury to the person, property or reputation of another, or maliciously threatens to expose another to disgrace, or to expose any secret affecting another, or to impute any deformity or lack of chastity to another, with intent thereby to extort money or any pecuniary advantage whatsoever, or with intent to compel the person so threatened, or any other person, to do any act or refrain from doing any act against his or her will, shall be guilty of a felony of the second degree. . . .

  3. Cases

    Research is ongoing.

  4. Practice Pointers

    Extortion is threatening (verbally or written) to injure someone, their property, or their reputation or threatening to expose secrets/disgrace someone in order to gain money, or to force the alleged victim to do something. Threats/extortion is a second degree felony, and is punishable by up to thirty years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.

    To prove extortion, “it is incumbent upon the prosecution to show that there was a malicious threat of injury against a person, which was communicated . . . for the purpose of compelling that person to commit an act or to refrain from acting against his will.”1 However, “[n]either the actual intent to do harm nor the ability to carry out the threat is essential to prove that extortion occurred.”2

    There is no crime of “attempted extortion.”3

    Florida punishes the crime of extortion for threats to a family member of the victim too: “The nature of the entity against whom the threat is primarily directed is of importance only in determining whether such a relationship exists between the entity and the person to whom the threat is communicated as would be calculated to coerce the victim to meet the demands of the extortioner in order to prevent the threat from being carried out. It therefore, is of no consequence whether the threat is primarily directed against the victim himself, his loved ones, his friends, or a corporation with which he is actively identified and in which he owns an interest.”4

    A violation of this statute does not give rise to a separate civil action for damages.5

  1. Dudley v. State, 634 So. 2d 1093, 1094 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1994). 

  2. Id. 

  3. Achin v. State, 436 So. 2d 30, 31 (Fla. 1982). 

  4. State v. McInnes, 153 So. 2d 854, 858 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. 1963). 

  5. Miami Herald Publ’g Co., Div. of Knight-Ridder Newspaper, Inc. v. Ferre, 636 F. Supp. 970, 976 (S.D. Fla. 1985).