Theft by Extortion Is Defined as Obtaining Money by Threatening Someone

Interviewer: What does theft by extortion refer to?

Martin Kane: Extortion is — again that’s all within New York — that’s all within the larceny section. The penalties tend to be a little bit higher when money is obtained or a value is obtained by extortion. It’s simply obtaining money by a threat of some sort. Either the threat can be, ‘If you don’t give me this money, I’m going to tell your wife that you were cheating on her,’ for example. Or, ‘I’m going to lie to the police and say that you committed some crime or another and get you arrested.’ Anything like that is extortion, and that’s getting money by threatening to do something to the person. It can be a public servant who does the extortion — and in fact it’s actually a higher degree of crime. For instance, when the inspector says, ‘If you don’t give me $100, I’m going to write you a health violation,’ that would be an extortion. So there are many types of ways, but in general it means that you’re getting somebody to give you money, against their will, to prevent you or to keep you from doing something to them.

Theft Of Lost Property Is Defined As Obtaining Property By Either Taking It Or Withholding It

Interviewer: Could someone be charged for theft of lost property if they’ve purchased something that was someone else’s property? Like if there was a hot item, so to speak.

Martin Kane: Yes; in fact if you look at the larceny statute it says, ‘obtaining property by either taking it or withholding it’ — so the situation of lost property would be withholding. You can break it down to something as simple as if you walk along the street and you see a quarter lying on the ground, and you pick up the quarter and put it in your pocket and you just go about your business. Well technically, you’ve committed larceny. Now nobody’s obviously going to prosecute you for something like that, but the principle is the same. In other words, you found property that clearly doesn’t belong to you, and you do not make any effort to find the rightful owner — that is larceny. The same as if you had taken it off the table in the restaurant; they’re exactly the same thing. And you can’t get by, just by simply saying, ‘Well I didn’t know who it belonged to.’ If you do not make an effort to find the owner, and you keep it, then you’ve technically committed a larceny. Sometimes police have been known to set up stings where they’ll put somebody pretending to be drunk, lying on the street like he’s incapacitated by drink, and they’ll leave a wallet next to his body. And they’ll wait until somebody comes along and picks it up, looks around, puts it in their pocket and walks away — it can even be a dollar bill. And then the police jump in and make an arrest. That’s a perfectly valid arrest for a larceny by withholding.

Common Types Of Theft That People Are Unaware Of

Interviewer: Are there any classes of theft that people aren’t generally aware of?

Martin Kane: I think that the most common thing that people don’t know too much about, at this point, are larcenies that are done with computers — obviously that would be one, and using other people’s credit cards. That’s really pretty technical and I wouldn’t want to try to go through each one of those, because they’re whole subjects in and of themselves. But that’s something that is growing by leaps and bounds; people should know that in the district attorneys’ offices, they have their most capable people dealing with these types of what they call ‘economic crimes.’ And it’s very much growing, and it’s being fought very hard by the police and by the district attorneys’ offices.

Learn More About The Law Office Of Martin D. Kane

To discover more about your options when charged with extortion, contact our office for an initial consultation by calling (718) 793-5700.

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