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Penal Code 210 PC | Extortion by Posing as a Kidnapper

Penal Code 210 PC – Extortion by Posing as a Kidnapper

Extortion by posing as a kidnapper–also known as Penal Code 210 PC–is a felony offense in California. This law makes it illegal to pose as a kidnapper or someone who aided a kidnapping in order to extort money or something else of value as a ransom or reward.

You can be charged with this crime even if you didn’t actually kidnap anyone. Simply representing yourself as a kidnapper or someone who helped with a kidnapping is enough to face charges. The key is that you tried to obtain money or something else of value by exploiting someone’s fear that a loved one was kidnapped.

Elements of the Crime

To be convicted under Penal Code 210 PC, the prosecution must prove the following elements:

  • You posed as, or represented yourself to be, either:
    • The person who kidnapped the victim
    • Someone who aided or abetted the kidnapping
    • Someone who is detaining the victim
    • Someone who has the ability to free the victim
  • You did this to obtain money, something of value, a reward, or ransom from another person
  • You intended to instill fear in the victim or victims in order to extort something from them

Some key points about the elements:

  • You don’t need to have actually kidnapped someone or been involved in a real kidnapping. Simply claiming you did is enough.
  • The “fear” element means making the victim afraid that harm will come to their loved one or that the loved one won’t be released unless demands are met.
  • The money or item of value you seek doesn’t necessarily have to be paid directly to you. For example, you could direct the victim to donate it to charity. As long as you intend to extort something through fear, you can be charged.

Real World Examples

Some real world examples of extortion by posing as a kidnapper include:

  • A man calls a wealthy business owner and says he has kidnapped the business owner’s daughter. He demands $50,000 in ransom for her safe return. In reality, the man has no connection to the daughter at all.
  • A woman sends a letter to the parents of a child saying she helped kidnap their son. She tells them to drop off $10,000 at a park bench if they ever want to see him again. The child was never kidnapped.
  • A group of people send an email to a company CEO saying they have abducted his wife. They ask for $100,000 worth of untraceable Bitcoin to let her go. The group had no involvement in any kidnapping.

In each case, the defendants posed as kidnappers or accomplices in order to extort money, even though no actual kidnapping took place.

Penalties

Extortion by posing as a kidnapper is a felony offense. Potential penalties include:

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2024-02-24
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  • Felony probation
  • Up to 1 year in county jail
  • 2, 3, or 4 years in California state prison

The judge will decide the exact penalty based on the circumstances of your case and your criminal history, if any.

How is it Different from Kidnapping?

This crime is different from kidnapping under Penal Code 207 PC. Kidnapping requires forcibly taking someone against their will. With extortion by posing as a kidnapper, the key is that you only pretended to kidnap someone or aid in a kidnapping.

However, if you do actually kidnap someone to extort money or something else of value, you can be charged with both:

  • Kidnapping under PC 207
  • Extortion under PC 518

Kidnapping to obtain money or something else of value is known as kidnapping for ransom, reward, or extortion. It carries a potential life sentence in California.

Legal Defenses

If you are charged with this crime, some possible legal defenses include:

  • Falsely accused – You didn’t actually pose as a kidnapper or accomplice. The alleged victim is falsely accusing you for some reason.
  • Mistaken identity – You have been mistaken for the real perpetrator.
  • No intent to extort – You did not intend to instill fear or extort anything from the alleged victim. For example, you were role-playing or making a joke.
  • Good faith belief – You had a good faith reason to believe you could rescue the victim or negotiate their release, even if you asked for money. Importantly, you can’t have been involved in any actual kidnapping.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help argue these defenses and fight the charges against you. Having skilled legal representation is critical when facing serious accusations.

Related Offenses

There are a few other crimes related to or overlapping with extortion by posing as a kidnapper. These include:

  • Kidnapping – Physically taking someone against their will by force or fear. This includes kidnapping for purposes of ransom or extortion.
  • False imprisonment – Intentionally restricting someone’s freedom of movement without consent.
  • Extortion – Threatening to accuse someone of a crime, expose a secret, or cause other harm in order to obtain money or something else of value.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help defend against any of these serious charges.

Hiring an Attorney

Extortion by posing as a kidnapper is a very serious felony charge. If convicted, you face years in prison and substantial fines. The consequences can negatively impact your life for many years to come.

Don’t leave your future to chance. An experienced California criminal defense lawyer can often negotiate with the prosecution for reduced charges or penalties. They will aggressively defend your rights and freedom every step of the way.

 

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