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In the intricate realm of white-collar crimes, understanding the distinctions between various offenses is paramount. Two offenses that are often entangled yet possess distinct legal characteristics are extortion and bribery. At Capitelli & Wicker, our New Orleans-based white-collar crime defense lawyers are here to provide clarity on the nuanced differences between extortion and bribery.

Extortion in Louisiana

At its core, extortion involves the act of coercing or compelling someone to do something against their will, typically through the threat of harm, force, or intimidation.

It is defined in Louisiana law RS 14:66. §66, “extortion is the communication of threats to another with the intention thereby to obtain anything of value or any acquittance, advantage, or immunity of any description.”

In legal terms, extortion is often referred to as a “quid pro quo” crime, where the accused demands something of value under duress. Extortion involves the wrongful use of force or fear to extract concessions, monetary or otherwise.

Understanding Bribery in Louisiana

Bribery (RS 14:120), on the other hand, revolves around the act of offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value with the intent to influence the actions of an individual in a position of power.

Unlike extortion, bribery typically involves an exchange where one party seeks to gain an unfair advantage through the influence of another. This offense often occurs in both public and private sectors, where individuals may attempt to sway decisions in their favor through illicit means.

Differences Between Extortion and Bribery

A few factors come into play when assessing the differences between extortion and bribery.

Consent: One fundamental difference between extortion and bribery lies in the element of consent. In extortion, the victim is forced into compliance due to the threat of harm or adverse consequences. Conversely, bribery involves a level of mutual agreement between the parties involved, albeit an agreement tainted by corruption and an intent to manipulate decisions.

Influence: While both extortion and bribery involve an element of influence, the source of influence differs significantly. Extortion relies on fear and coercion, compelling the victim to yield to the demands of the aggressor. Bribery, on the other hand, operates on a more subtle plane, where the offer of something valuable is intended to sway the decision-making process in the briber’s favor.

Context: Context also plays a pivotal role in distinguishing between extortion and bribery. Extortion often occurs in situations with explicit or implicit threats of physical harm, damage to property, or other forms of coercion. Bribery, however, is more commonly associated with financial gain, political influence, or preferential treatment in business dealings.

Penalties and Legal Consequences for Extortion and Bribery

Both extortion and bribery are serious offenses with severe legal consequences. In Louisiana and many other jurisdictions, penalties for these crimes may include fines, imprisonment, or a combination of both. The severity of the punishment often depends on the specific circumstances surrounding the offense, such as the amount of money involved, the degree of coercion, and the impact on the victim.

Hiring a Louisiana White Collar Crime Lawyer for Extortion and Bribery Defense

In conclusion, while extortion and bribery share common threads of influence and manipulation, the nuances lie in the methods employed, the nature of consent, and the contextual backdrop of each offense. Hiring a white collar defense lawyer is an important first step if you’re facing either of these charges in Louisiana.

Brian Capitelli

Author Brian Capitelli

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