Extortion “Legally” Defined

The following definitions for “extortion” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and “Webster’s 1828 Dictionary:”

 


 

(Ballantine’s)

Oppression under color or right; the criminal offense of obtaining money or other valuable thing by compulsion, actual force, or force of motives to the will; more technically defined as the unlawful taking by an officer of the law, by color of his office, of any money or thing of value that is not due to him, or the taking of more than is due, or the taking of money before it is due [Bush v. State, 19 Ariz 195, 168 P 508; 31 Am J2d Extort § 1]. A method of abuse of process [1 Am J2d Abuse P § 12].
 

(Bouvier’s)

In a large sense, it signifies any oppression, under color of right: but in a more strict sense it means the unlawful taking by any officer, by color of his office, of any money or thing of value that is not due to him, or more than is due, or before it is due [4 Bl. Com. 141; 1 Hawk. P. C. c. 68, s. 1; 1 Russ. Cr. *144]. To constitute extortion, there must be the receipt of money or something of value; the taking a promissory note, which is void, is not sufficient to make an extortion [2 Mass. R. 523; see Bac. Ab. h. t.; Co. Litt. 168]. It is extortion and oppression for an officer to take money for the performance of his duty, even though it be in the exercise of a discretionary power [2 Burr. 927]. It differs from exaction [(q. v.) See 6 Cowen, R. 661; 1 Caines, R. 130; 13 S. & R. 426 1 Yeates, 71; 1 South. 324; 3 Penna. R. 183; 7 Pick. 279; 1 Pick. 171].
 

(Black’s)

Any oppression by color or pretense of right, and particularly the exaction by an officer of money, by color of his office, either when none at all is due, or not so much is due, or when it is not yet due [Preston v. Bacon, 4 Conn. 480].

Extortion consists in any public officer unlawfully taking, by color of his office, from any person any money or thing of value that is not due to him, or more than his due [Code Ga. 1882, § 4507].

Extortion is the obtaining of property from another, with his consent, induced by wrongful use of force or fear, or under color of official right [Pen. Code Cal § 518; Pen code Dak. § 608; and see Cohen v. State, 37 Tex. Cr. R. 118, 38 S. W. 1005; U. S. v. Deaver (D. C.), 14 Fed. 597; People v. Hoffman, 126 Cal. 366, 58 Pac. 856; State v. Logan, 104 La. 760, 29 South. 336; People v. Barondess, 61 Hun. 571, 16 N. Y. Supp. 436].

  • Extortion is an abuse of public justice, which consists in any officer unlawfully taking, by color of his office, form any man, any money, or thing of value that is not due to him, or before it is due [4 Bl. Comm. 141].
  • Extortion is any oppression under color of right. In a stricter sense, the taking of money by any officer, by color of his office, when none, or not so much is due, or it is not yet due [1 Hawk. P. C. (Curw. Ed.) 418].
  • It is the corrupt demanding or receiving by a person in office of a free for services which should be performed gratuitously; or where compensation is permissible, of a larger fee than the law justifies, or a fee not due [2 Bish. Crim. Law § 390].
  • The distinction between “bribery” and “extortion” seems to be this: the former offense consists in the offering a present, or receiving one, if offered; the latter, in demanding a fee or present, by color of office.

 

(Webster’s)

The act of extorting; the act or practice of wresting any thing from a person by force,duress, menaces, authority,or by any undue exercise of power; illegal exaction; illegal compulsion to pay money, or to do some other act. Extortion is an offense punishable at common law.

1. Force or illegal compulsion by which any thing is taken from a person.

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