Sextortion is a type of extortion or blackmail where someone threatens to release sexually explicit photos or videos of you unless you give them money or something else, they want. Sextortion can happen to anyone, but it is especially common among young people who are active on social media and the internet. If you are currently a victim of sextortion in California, keep reading to find out what laws can protect you from this awful crime.
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Is Sextortion a Crime in California?
Sextortion is a serious crime in California, so much so that cases of crime are coming to light more rapidly. A teen Ryan Last who was from Los Angeles; sadly committed suicide mere hours after becoming a victim of sextortion. The teen was catfished on social media and coerced into sending intimate images of himself. After the images were sent, the scammer threatened to expose his content to family and friends if he didn’t pay $5,000. The fear of exposure was too much and led Ryan Last to take his life.
If you are a victim of sextortion, we recommend you immediately file a police report and seek an attorney to build a case. If you are being threatened with the release of sexually explicit photos or videos of you, do not respond to the demands of the person extorting you. Instead, save any communications you have with the person and contact the police immediately.
What Sextortion Laws in California Protect You?
Unfortunately, sextortion is not considered a single crime defined under California law. However, that does not mean that this form of extortion is not illegal in the state. Internet sextortion is a form of extortion and blackmail but adds a sexually inappropriate component to it.
Those who act on sextortion can be charged with several other crimes under the state’s law such as California Penal Code Section 518 PC: Extortion, which is a criminal offense that involves the use of force or threats to compel another person into providing money or property, or using force or threats to compel a public official to perform or neglect an official act or duty. Crimes such as cyberstalking, blackmail, and other crimes can also be considered.
To prove extortion, the following needs to be present in court:
- Proof of:
- Threats to unlawfully injure
- Threats to accuse someone of a crime
- Threats to expose someone’s secret
- The person needs to have intended to use the fear of their victim to obtain their money, or property, or have them perform an act
- Proof that the victim consented to the demands out of fear and coercion
- And proof that the victim complied with said demands out of fear and coercion
What is Punishment for Sextortion in CA?
The penalty for sextortion in California is a felony offense that is punishable by up to three years in prison. If the defendant has made extortion demands but the victim never complied or consented, he or she can be charged with attempted extortion. Attempted extortion is a “wobbler” offense that can be filed as either a felony or a misdemeanor.
Sextortion in California is a serious crime that can have a lasting impact on victims. If you are being threatened with the release of sexually explicit photos or videos of yourself, do not respond to demands for money or anything else. Instead, save any communications you have with the person extorting you and contact the police, and an attorney immediately. There is help available if you find yourself in this situation, so please reach out for support if needed.