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What crimes can lead to Hobbs Act charges?

Introduction

The Hobbs Act is a pretty serious federal law that can lead to some prety serious charges. It’s used to go after all kinds of crimes–from corruption and bribery, to robbery and extortion. Basically if you’re doing something shady that affects interstate commerce, you could potentially get slapped with Hobbs Act charges.
In this article, we’ll break down exactly what kinds of crimes can lead to Hobbs Act charges. We’ll try to keep it simple and conversational, more like we’re just chatting over coffee instead of a stuffy legal textbook. There might even be some typos and grammar mistakes sprinkled throughout becuase, hey, no one’s perfect!

Extortion and Robbery

The two main things the Hobbs Act targets are extortion and robbery.
Extortion is when you force someone to give you money or something else of value through threats or pressure. For example, saying “Nice business you got there, would be a shame if something happened to it…unless you pay me $5,000 per month in ‘insurance.'” That’s extortion, baby.
Robbery is similar except it usually involves actual or threatened physical force. So if you walk into a bank with a gun and demand all the money, that’s robbery. No subtlety there.
So if you’re extorting or robbing someone and it affects interstate commerce (more on that later), you could be looking at some Hobbs Act charges.

Bribery and Public Corruption

The Hobbs Act gets used a lot to go after bribery and public corruption. If you’re a public official and you’re taking bribes or kickbacks in exchange for official acts, you’re almost certainly looking at potential Hobbs Act charges.
For example, if you’re a state legislator and a construction company gives you $100,000 to award them a lucrative highway contract, that’s bribery and extortion under color of official right. Or if you’re a city inspector and you require businesses to pay you “inspection fees” that go straight into your pocket before you’ll approve their permits, that could also violate the Hobbs Act.
Basically if you have any kind of public trust or official capacity, and you abuse that power for personal gain, the feds can come after you with some Hobbs Act charges. Because that affects public confidence in government and interstate commerce (and also it’s just wrong–shame on you!).

Labor Racketeering

Another big area for Hobbs Act charges is labor racketeering. This is when there’s corruption or criminal activity within a labor union.
For example, if the leadership of a big construction workers union extorts money from contractors by threatening labor strikes unless they pay kickbacks, that can violate the Hobbs Act. Or if the mob is running a union and embezzling pension funds through fraud or extortion, that’s labor racketeering and can also lead to Hobbs Act charges.
Basically if there’s corruption or organized criminal activity going on within a labor union, the Department of Justice often brings charges under the Hobbs Act.

What Makes Something a Hobbs Act Crime?

Ok so we’ve talked about some of the common crimes that lead to Hobbs Act charges–extortion, robbery, bribery, public corruption, labor racketeering. But what exactly makes something a Hobbs Act crime?
There’s two key elements that need to be present:
There was extortion, robbery, or an attempt or conspiracy to commit extortion or robbery.
The activity affected interstate or foreign commerce.
That second part is important. The criminal activity has to have some effect–even a minor one–on interstate commerce. This is how the federal government gets jurisdiction to bring charges under the Hobbs Act.
For example, if you extort a local restaurant, that business likely purchases ingredients from out-of-state suppliers which affects interstate commerce. Or if you bribe an Oklahoma state official, that undermines public confidence in government which impacts interstate commerce.
The effect doesn’t have to be huge. Even a minor impact is enough to qualify and charge someone under the Hobbs Act. So that’s something to keep in mind.

What Are the Penalties?

Ok so you got caught doing something shady and now you’re facing potential Hobbs Act charges. What kind of penalties are you looking at?
Well, let’s just say they’re pretty steep:
Up to 20 years in federal prison. Yikes!
Fines up to $250,000. Start digging deep into those pockets!
Forfeiture of assets obtained from the crime. Bye bye ill-gotten gains!
And that’s per count! So if you get indicted on multiple Hobbs Act charges, those penalties stack up in a hurry.
You can even get life in prison if the extortion leads to kidnapping, sexual assault, or death.
All in all, you want to avoid Hobbs Act charges at all costs. Major bad news.

Defenses and Challenges

Ok so you got caught up in something sketchy and now you’re facing Hobbs Act charges. What can you do?
Well, first thing is don’t panic. Hire a lawyer who has experience with federal cases and Hobbs Act defenses. Some common challenges include:
No effect on interstate commerce – Argue that your activities were purely local in nature and had no impact on interstate commerce. This punches a hole in federal jurisdiction.
Coercion or duress – Claim you were coerced into committing the crime through threats against yourself or loved ones. This can achieve acquittal or sentencing leniency.
Entrapment – Argue you were illegally induced or entrapped by government agents into committing the crime. This is an uphill battle but could lead to acquittal.
Statute of limitations – Federal indictments must be brought within 5 years of an alleged Hobbs Act violation. If it’s been longer, statute of limitations has expired.
Other challenges can include improper venue, challenging evidence/witnesses, or even highlighting positives about your character to the judge at sentencing in hopes of reducing jail time.
An experienced attorney knows all the ins and outs of mounting a strong defense against Hobbs Act charges. So make sure you get good legal representation!

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
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Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
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Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
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Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
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Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

The Bottom Line

The Hobbs Act is serious business. If you’re caught extorting, robbing, bribing, or otherwise messing with interstate commerce, you could be looking at major federal charges.
Don’t panic, but also don’t wait to connect with an attorney who can advise the best defense strategy for your specific situation. And maybe try to avoid doing shady stuff in the first place, ya know? Keep your nose clean and stay out of trouble!
But if you do wind up in hot water, know that an experienced lawyer can help protect your rights every step of the way.

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