July 5, 2022 By Stephen Klarich

What to Know About Sextortion in California

What Is Sextortion? 

Sextortion, otherwise known as sexual extortion, is a category of extortion related to sex crimes. Extortion in general is defined as the unlawful use of force or threats to obtain some kind of benefit, such as money. Sextortion specifically is the practice of threatening to release someone’s sexually explicit pictures or videos. The blackmail is generally an attempt to extort money or sexual favors and has grown with the expansion of the Internet and social media. 

Sextortion in California

The crime of sextortion is not necessarily defined as a single crime under California law. Oftentimes, the charges for sextortion will be the same as those under traditional extortion law defined by California Penal Code Section 518. Although there is currently no specific statute for sextortion in the state, you could be charged for several crimes if you are accused, including blackmail, bribery, child pornography, and cyberstalking. The following section details the different penalties you could be facing if you are charged with sextortion.  

Penalties for Sextortion 

The consequences for sextortion depend on the specific circumstances of your case. You could be charged with just one or several of the crimes listed above. Typically, sextortion carries the same penalties as other forms of extortion. However, courts do tend to look more harshly on acts that involve the exploitation of someone in a sexual manner. Extortion is a felony offense that is punishable by: 

  • Up to $10,000 in fines 
  • 2 to 4 years in prison 

If the defendant actually shared the victim’s sexually explicit pictures or videos online, they may also be violating California’s revenge porn law. This section makes it a misdemeanor to post non-consensual sexual images or videos of a person online when doing so causes a person to suffer serious emotional distress. This crime is punishable by: 

  • Up to $1,000 in fines 
  • Up to 6 months in county jail 

Because sextortion often involves crimes that occur over the Internet, you could also be charged with a federal crime. For example, if you hack a computer to commit sextortion, you could be charged with unauthorized access to a computer under 18 U.S.C. Section 1030. A felony conviction of this crime is punishable by: 

  • Up to $250,000 in fines 
  • Up to 10 years in prison 

Frequently, these cases involve children and teens being coerced by adults into sending explicit images online. Because these victims are under California’s legal age of consent, those who are convicted can also face charges for sexual exploitation of a minor or possession of child pornography. These are serious crimes. Any person who forces or coerces a minor to engage in sexual conduct can face up to 30 years in federal prison. In addition, anyone convicted of a sex crime with a minor will be required to register as a sex offender. This can carry additional consequences, affecting your employment, relationships, and housing. 

In any case, sextortion and sex-related crimes are taken very seriously. Often, there can also be quite a bit of digital evidence stacked against you with messages or images that were sent to the victim over the Internet or phone. As such, it is crucial that you retain an experienced sex crimes attorney as soon as possible after you have been accused of sextortion. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you are charged with a crime related to sextortion, contact our attorneys at Wallin & Klarich immediately. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of sex-related cases, and we have the skills and resources to secure the best outcome for you. We know that these can be tough cases, but we always keep your best interests in mind. Because sex-related crimes can be difficult to talk about, we ensure that we are creating a comfortable and judgment-free environment for open, honest discussions. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.

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