A threat can be about many things. The threat of bad weather, for example, or a threat to cause harm. Many threats are harmless and can even be made in jest. Yet, Louisianans may not realize that some threats can rise to the level of felonious behavior. Specifically, the felony crime of extortion occurs when a person threatens another with the goal of obtaining something of value, including an advantage or immunity in some form.
Under Louisiana law, there are a number of different types of threats that may be considered criminal. A threat to unlawfully injure another, his or her family or a loved one, or the property of the person threatened constitutes extortion in Louisiana. A person who threatens exposure of a particular disgrace or deformity may be charged with extortion, as well.
Additionally, the threatened exposure of another’s secret is considered extortion, whether the secret affects the person threatened or a member of his or her family or a loved one. A person who threatens another, or the person’s family or a loved one, with the accusation of a crime may also be guilty of extortion, as may a person who threatens harmful retribution for a person’s involvement in a legal, administrative, or legislative proceeding.
Significantly, Louisiana law considers a threat to do harm, without any specific parameters, as extortion. This suggests that a wide range of alleged behavior may be considered to be extortion. It may be likely that a case of extortion will depend on one person’s word against another. Therefore, a Louisianan who has been accused of this crime may benefit from skilled legal counsel to protect his or her rights, as a conviction can carry long-term consequences. An individual who is convicted of this criminal offense may face a minimum prison sentence of one year, and as many as 15 years. Therefore, those accused of making threats to rise to criminality should carefully consider their criminal defense options.
Source: Louisiana State Legislature, “RS 14:66,” accessed March 11, 2016