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Coercion | blackmail, extortion crime

Is Coercion a crime in Minnesota?

Yes, it can be. Whether you call it blackmail, extortion, or coercion – it’s a crime in Minnesota. Minnesota Statutes §609.27 defines the crime:

“Subdivision 1. Acts constituting. Whoever orally or in writing makes any of the following threats and thereby causes another against the other’s will to do any act or forbear doing a lawful act is guilty of coercion and may be sentenced as provided in subdivision 2:

(1) a threat to unlawfully inflict bodily harm upon, or hold in confinement, the person threatened or another, when robbery or attempt to rob is not committed thereby; or
(2) a threat to unlawfully inflict damage to the property of the person threatened or another; or
(3) a threat to unlawfully injure a trade, business, profession, or calling; or
(4) a threat to expose a secret or deformity, publish a defamatory statement, or otherwise to expose any person to disgrace or ridicule [note: Minnesota Statutes §609.27, Subd. 1 (4) has been ruled unconstitutional, see below]; or
(5) a threat to make or cause to be made a criminal charge, whether true or false; provided, that a warning of the consequences of a future violation of law given in good faith by a peace officer or prosecuting attorney to any person shall not be deemed a threat for the purposes of this section; or
(6) a threat to commit a violation under section 617.261″ [NONCONSENSUAL DISSEMINATION OF PRIVATE SEXUAL IMAGES, a/k/a revenge porn.]

Misdemeanor or Felony

The crime is a misdemeanor offense, or a felony up to ten years if resulting pecuniary gain or loss can be measured.

Attempted Coercion

Attempt to Coerce is a separate crime under Minnesota Statutes Section 609.275. If a threat did not cause the intended act or forbearance, the crime is attempt to coerce.

The attempt crime may have a different sentence. Sentencing for an attempt to coerce is under the general attempt statute, Minnesota Statutes Section 609.17. That means the judge will sentence a felony attempt crime to one-half the sentence for the completed crime.

interrogation-400 The third degree. coercion
The third degree.

Other types

Doxing or doxxing is publicly providing personally identifiable information about an individual or organization, usually online. Aggregation and provision of previously published material may generally be a legal practice, but may be subject to criminal laws concerning stalking, intimidation, extortion, and coercion.

Swatting is making malicious, fraudulent 911 calls to cause a government emergency response, such as law enforcement special weapons and tactics teams, or SWAT, to react with overwhelming force to a nonexistent public threat. This could also be subject to criminal laws concerning stalking, intimidation, extortion, and coercion.

Coercion Disambiguation

The crime: Coercion is a word with multiple meanings, even within a criminal law context. This page is about the Minnesota criminal offense of that name. The Minnesota Coercion crime includes extortion, blackmail, and more.

The word: Apart from the crime, is coercion the word. It involves a threat or enticement. It can be the opposite of consent. And coercion makes what seems voluntary, involuntary.

Other crimes: But prosecutors claim coercion as a fact (subject to proof), in many other crimes. It is also an element of other Minnesota crimes. For example, several sex crimes defined in Minnesota Criminal Sexual Conduct laws include an element of coercion.

extortion-chat-300 screen. Online sexual extortion
Online sexual extortion

Evidence: And coercion can make a person’s confession involuntary. Involuntary statements are not reliable. Judges will suppress coerced statements from evidence if a defense attorney like Thomas C. Gallagher makes a motion to suppress statements.

Similarly, a judge will suppress a statement to police in violation of Miranda where police coerce a waiver of rights.

And when police coerce “consent” to search, the search is illegal.

Defenses: Facts in some cases also support the related defenses of Duress and Necessity.

And issues of coercion and voluntariness come up in the context of other defenses, as well. Self-defense and mental illness defenses are examples.

Revenge porn lite

The crime of coercion in Minnesota includes a threat to publish revenge porn.

Minn. Stat. §609.27, Subd. 1(4) is Unconstitutional

On July 22, 2020, the Minnesota Supreme Court struck down Minnesota Statutes §609.27, Subd. 1 (4) as overly broad, criminalizing constitutionally protected speech. And since it violates the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, this part of the statute is void and unenforceable. State v. Jorgenson, A19-0323 (Minn. 2020).

Question? Call Lawyer Thomas Gallagher, 612 333-1500

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