Most people are familiar with the term “extortion.” Under New York state law, it’s referred to as “coercion.”
You might associate coercion with organized crime families or street gangs who offer to “protect” a business in exchange for regular payments or threats that induce the owner to look the other way when certain criminal activity occurs on their premises — and that is one example of coercion. However, there’s more to it than that.
Indeed, a person can be charged with second-degree coercion for causing another party to take (or not take) a specific action based on fear for their safety or the safety of their property. Second-degree coercion can also involve the threat of:
Basically, inducing someone to do or not do something that’s lawful by creating a reasonable fear of just about any type of harm to their safety, property, personal relationships, business, reputation or finances can be considered second-degree coercion. A person convicted of second-degree coercion could face a year behind bars and/or a fine.
What if the coercer is trying to get someone to do something illegal? This could be charged as first-degree coercion. Specifically, this type of coercion involves inducing someone to:
A first-degree coercion conviction carries a sentence of up to 7 years in prison and significant fines – particularly if a coercer benefited financially from their crime.
Whether you have been charged with coercion or you’re facing charges for another illegal action as the victim of coercion, it’s essential that you seek experienced legal guidance. Don’t underestimate the effect of a criminal charge on your life, family, career and reputation.
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