Extortion is a serious crime; many people don't understand that this offense is a crime that is punishable under the law. Extortion is especially difficult for laymen to identify and seek help to prosecute when these threats and demands are coming from a family member. Extortion involves a demand for cash, property or other items, with the communication of a threat of physical, emotional harm, or threats to one's reputation or livelihood. No matter who is making the demands and threats, it is important to take the proper precautions to protect yourself. Taking these steps will also communicate to your family member that this behavior is not welcome, is not legal and will not be tolerated.
Contact the Police
If a family member or loved one is demanding money from you and threatening you with violence if you don't provide the amount of money demanded, you have a right to seek protection under the law. Contact the police in your jurisdiction right away and procure a police report at the very least. Depending on the severity of the threats and the type of proof you have on hand, the police may be able to procure a warrant for the individual's arrest. An officer may be dispatched to the person's house to have a conversation with them on your behalf. At the very least, you will be provided with a police report number that will be helpful later, so keep this information handy.
Seek a Protective Order
Most states allow citizens to obtain an emergency order of protection from the local courts or police agency if an individual feels they are being threatened or harassed. You will need to provide proof of this harassment - voicemails, emails, written communication or witness statements. You must also provide evidence that you fear for your life, health or safety and that the individual in question has communicated a viable threat to you. Most states require a hearing to make these protection orders permanent, so make sure you are aware of the requirements to protect yourself.
Contact an Attorney
Once you handle your immediate needs to protect your life and safety, contact an attorney that deals in extortion and other criminal matters. You most likely have a viable claim under the law, but you must assert your claim right away. Your attorney will help you determine how to proceed with a lawsuit against the person making threats against you. In most cases, you will be entitled to recover monetary damages. In a handful of cases, the mere threat of legal consequences is enough to stave off further extortion attempts and send a message to the individual that is making threats against your person or reputation.
For more information, contact a family law attorney, like one at Kleveland Law.