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 Section 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.
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.
Historically, prosecutors have not charged this crime often in Minnesota. In recent years, however, extortion and coercion crime has been more frequently charged.
But this criminal statute can also be useful to criminal defense attorneys as well as lawyers in civil cases, for what may be obvious reasons.
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 seem voluntary, involuntary.
Other crimes: But prosecutors claim coercion as a fact 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.
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.
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.
Minnesota Statutes §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? You can call Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer Thomas Gallagher at 612 333-1500