A recent state court criminal case here in Atlanta is very similar to a federal criminal case we handled in Savannah last year. In each case, one person made a demand against another person, and the demand arose out of civil litigation. Prosecutors in each case alleged that the “demand” was actually the crime of “extortion.” The recent case here in Atlanta was handled by our friend Brian Steel, who is an excellent lawyer. Just like in our case last year in Savannah, Brian got the charges dismissed against his client. You can read about the recent Atlanta case here.
These cases came about because of statutes (which some people refer to as “laws”) that make it a crime to engage in extortion. Generally, it is illegal to threaten another person and ask that person to pay you money in return for which you will take some action that benefits that other person. However, (and this is the big exception) it is NOT illegal to make such a threat (or “demand”) if you have every right to make such a claim. In other words, if someone damages your car, it is OK for you (or your lawyer) to send a “demand” to the person who wrecked your auto, seeking money, and threatening a lawsuit if they do not comply with the demand. It is NOT OK to send a demand if the person never caused you any damage at all. Continue Reading