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Extortion (Hobbs Act)

While it is often considered to be synonymous with blackmail, the crime of extortion usually involves conduct that is much more serious in nature than just revealing embarrassing information. In most cases of extortion, an alleged offender is accused of using threats of physical violence, destruction of property, or other illegal actions to coerce money, services, or something else of value from an alleged victim.

An alleged offender who extorts property “under color of official right”—a public officer’s wrongful use of otherwise valid official power—may face federal charges under the Hobbs Act. Both state and federal offenses can result in severe penalties that may include huge fines and lengthy prison sentences.

Extortion Defense Lawyer in San Antonio, TX

Are you currently being investigated for alleged extortion or were you arrested for allegedly violating the Hobbs Act? It is in your best interest to make sure that you have legal representation before making any kind of statement to investigators.

The San Antonio criminal defense attorneys of Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr practice in federal courts and state courts throughout Texas. You can receive a thorough evaluation of your case as soon as you call 210-226-1463 to set up a free consultation.


Bexar County Overview of the Hobbs Act


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Extortion Charges in Texas

Under Texas Penal Code § 31.02, extortion is among several offenses are consolidated under the general theft statute. The severity of criminal charges for alleged extortion depends on the amount of money or the value of property or services that were allegedly extorted.

Alleged offenders could face the following penalties under Texas Penal Code § 31.03(e):

  • If the value of the property extorted is less than $100, the alleged offense is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500;
  • If the value of the property embezzled is $100 or more but less than $750, the value of the property extorted is less than $100 and the alleged offender has been previously convicted of any grade of theft, or the property extorted is a driver's license, commercial driver's license, or personal identification certificate issued by Texas or another state, the alleged offense is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and/or up to 180 days in jail;
  • If the value of the property extorted is $750 or more but less than $2,500, the alleged offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $4,000 and/or up to one year in jail;
  • If the value of the property extorted is $2,500 or more but less than $30,000, the property is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $30,000, the property is—regardless of value—stolen from the person of another or from a human corpse or grave—including property that is a military grave marker, the property extorted is a firearm, the value of the property extorted is less than $2,500 and the alleged offender has been previously convicted two or more times of any grade of theft, the property extorted is an official ballot or official carrier envelope for an election, or the value of the property extorted is less than $20,000 and the property extorted is aluminum, bronze, copper, or brass, the alleged offense is a state jail felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to two years in jail;
  • If the value of the property extorted is $30,000 or more but less than $150,000, the property is cattle, horses, or exotic livestock or exotic fowl extorted during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $150,000, or 10 or more head of sheep, swine, or goats extorted during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $150,000, the alleged offense is a third-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to five years in prison;
  • If the value of the property extorted is $150,000 or more but less than $300,000, or the value of the property extorted is less than $300,000 and the property extorted is an automated teller machine or the contents or components of an automated teller machine, the alleged offense is a second-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 20 years in prison; or
  • If the value of the property extorted is $300,000 or more, the alleged offense is a first-degree felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and/or up to 99 years or life in prison.

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Federal Charges under the Hobbs Act

The Hobbs Act is named after Sam Hobbs, an eight-term United States Representative from Alabama. The congressman introduced The Hobbs Act was enacted in 1946 under 18 U.S.C. § 1951 and criminalized extortion by force, fear or threat as well as extortion under color of official right.

The Hobbs Act specifically prohibits people from, in any way or degree, obstructing, delaying, or affecting commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or attempting or conspiring so to do, or committing or threatening physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose to do commit a violation of the Hobbs Act. Hobbs Act violations are punishable by a fine of up to $250,000 and up to 20 years in prison.


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Texas Extortion Resources

Competing Theories of Blackmail | Texas Law Review — Read an article examining various theories of blackmail and distinguishing between blackmail and extortion. Many blackmail laws discussed in the article are codified as extortion statutes. The article concludes that two theories “both see blackmail as a form of extortion—a category traditionally limited to conditional threats to engage in criminal acts, such as a threat to injure someone unless paid.”

U.S. Attorneys' Manual | The Hobbs Act — Visit the U.S. Department of Justice website to learn more about how violations of the federal Hobbs Act are prosecuted. The article covers investigative and supervisory jurisdiction as well as consultation prior to prosecution relating to the Hobbs Act. Links are also provided to expanded sections regarding extortion under color of official right, extortion by force, violence, or fear, and general Hobbs Act violations.


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Find a Lawyer for Hobbs Act Defense in San Antonio, TX

If you have been arrested or you believe that you are under investigation in Texas for any kind of extortion offense, you should immediately retain legal counsel. Goldstein, Goldstein, Hilley & Orr has been defending clients against white collar offenses and other criminal charges since 1968.

Gerry Goldstein has received numerous awards, including being named one of the Best Lawyers in America. Cynthia Orr is an inductee into the San Antonio Women's Hall of Fame.

Our criminal defense attorneys in San Antonio, TX fight to get the most favorable outcomes for clients throughout Bexar County. You can receive a full review of your case and get answers to all of your legal questions as soon as you call 210-226-1463 or complete an online contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation.

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