To prove that a person has committed extortion, the Crown Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person has induced or attempted to induce another person to do anything or cause anything to be done. The Crown Attorney must prove that the person did not have any reasonable justification or excuse and intended to obtain anything by way of threats, accusations, menaces, or violence. The person that the accused threatens does not have to be the same person that the accused expects to do anything or cause anything to be done.
Nature of the Threat
While a threat to bring about criminal charges or to call the police is considered a threat under this section, a threat to institute civil proceedings does not constitute a threat. Moreover, the person threatened does not have to do whatever is being demanded of him or her in order for the act of extortion to have occurred.
The threat does not have to be so serious that it deprives the victim of free and voluntary exercise of his or her will. The victim need not submit to the accused’s threat in order for this element of the offence to be made out.
Penalty for Extortion
Extortion is a very serious criminal offence, and is a strictly indictable offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. The potential penalties for extortion are similar to those for robbery. Where an act of extortion was committed with either a restricted or prohibited firearm was used or if the extortion was committed using any firearm and the offence was committed for the benefit of, at the direction of or in association with a criminal organization the mandatory minimum penalty is a term of imprisonment of 5 years for a first offence, and a minimum term of imprisonment of 7 years for a second or subsequent offence.
In any other case where a firearm was used while committing the extortion, the minimum penalty is a term of imprisonment for 4 years, and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment. Where no firearm was used during the course of the extortion, there is no mandatory minimum penalty, however a person is still subject to a maximum penalty of life imprisonment upon conviction.
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