When someone unlawfully force another person to do something through force or threat, they can be held accountable. Depending on the severity of the of force or threat, one could be charged with criminal coercion in NJ.
Make sure to take the time to familiarize yourself with the following information and contact an attorney if you are being charged with criminal coercion.
What is Criminal Coercion?
Generally speaking, criminal coercion involves making threats or using force with the purpose of unlawfully restricting someone else’s freedom to engage in or refrain from engaging in a certain act.
Under N.J.S.A. 2C:13-5, New Jersey recognizes 7 specific categories of criminal coercion.
A person can be charged with criminal coercion if he purposefully and unlawfully restricts the freedom of another to engage in or refrain from engaging in conduct by threatening to:
- Inflict bodily injury on anyone or commit any other offense
- Accuse anyone of an offense
- Expose any secret that would tend to subject any person to hatred, contempt, or ridicule or impair his credit or business repute
- Take or withhold action as an official or cause an official to take or withhold action
- Bring about or continue a strike, boycott, or other collective action (unless the threat is made during the course of negotiations for the benefit of the group in whose interests the person is acting)
- Testify or provide information or withhold testimony or information with respect to another’s legal claim or defense
- Perform any other act that would not in itself substantially benefit the actor but is calculated to substantially harm another person’s health, safety, business, calling, career, financial condition, reputation, or personal relationships
Remember, the last category is a catch-all designed to include all other types of threats that would detrimentally impact a person. Additionally, in order for a prosecutor to prove that you are guilty, he needs to establish three things.
- First, he must be able to prove that your conduct fell into one of the 7 prohibited categories of threats.
- Second, he must be able to show that it was your purpose or goal to restrict the freedom of another from acting or refraining from acting in a certain conduct.
- Lastly, the prosecutor has to prove that your purpose or goal was unlawful.
If he cannot do even one of these, it is highly unlikely that you will be convicted.
Penalties for Coercion
If you are found guilty of criminal coercion in NJ, you can be convicted of a fourth degree crime. This means you could face up to 18 months in prison and be compelled to pay a fine of up to $10,000.
However, if your threat involves committing a crime more serious than a fourth degree crime (or you have a criminal purpose in making the threat), then you could be guilty of a third degree crime.
If convicted of a third degree crime, you could face 3-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000.
Who Should You Contact?
If you or a loved one has been charged with criminal coercion in New Jersey, contact The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Our team of criminal defense attorneys will do what they can to help protect your legal rights and fight to keep you out of prison. E-mail or call us at 888-815-3649 today.