Violation Of The Hobbs Act Or Extortion

The crime of extortion is not uncommon in that it is often portrayed in organized crime movies and many know it as the Government’s effort to combat racketeering. Prosecuted under 18 USC 1951, a violation of the Hobbs Act is committed by obstructing, delaying, or affecting commerce or the movement of any article or commodity in commerce, by robbery or extortion or an attempt or conspiracy so to do, or if one commits or threatens physical violence to any person or property in furtherance of a plan or purpose. An alternate theory for a Hobbs Act violation is an allegation that extortion has been committed under color of official right, thereby foregoing the Government’s necessity to prove extortion by actual or threatened force. A conviction for violation of the Hobbs Act will result in a high fine or imprisonment of twenty years, or both. Hobbs Act violations are very serious crimes and as such those law enforcement officers and United States Attorneys prosecuting these crimes are the best the Federal government has to offer. Any white-collar case involving bribery or extortion is taken seriously and you’ll need quality representation to fight for your interest along the way. Allow us to be that quality representation you need.


The United States Attorneys Office can prosecute a Hobbs Act violation in three different ways. The first of which is by alleging the use of threat to extort someone. They can prove this charge by proving the following beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. The Defendant caused the alleged victim to part with property;
  2. The Defendant did so knowingly by using extortion; and
  3. The extortionate transaction delayed, interrupted, or affected interstate commerce.
  4. “Extortion” means obtaining property from a person who consents to give it up because of the wrongful use of actual or threatened force, violence, or fear.

Alternatively, a Hobbs Act Violation can be proven by showing one was extorted by obtaining something under “color of official right.” What does this mean? Extortion under color of official right is committed when:

  1. The Defendant caused a victim to part with property;
  2. The Defendant did so knowingly by using extortion under color of official right; and
  3. The extortionate transaction delayed, interrupted, or affected interstate commerce.

“Extortion under color of official right" is the wrongful taking or receipt of money or property by a public officer who knows that the money or property was taken or received in return for doing or not doing official acts. The use of threats or fear are not material for an allegation of extortion under this theory. Because an allegation of a Hobbs Act violation under color of official right involves a public officer, it is not uncommon for an indictment to also include an allegation of bribery of a public official and a possible allegation of wire fraud.

Last but not least, when the extorter actually obtains someone else’s property as opposed to simply displacing them of it, they can be charged with extortion by robbery. One can be charged with extortion by robbery when:

  1. The Defendant knowingly acquired someone else’s personal property;
  2. The Defendant took the property against the victim's will, by using actual or threatened force, or violence, or causing the victim to fear harm, either immediately or in the future; and
  3. The Defendant's actions obstructed, delayed, or affected interstate commerce.

An allegation of a Hobbs Act violation is about as serious as it gets in our Federal criminal system. For that reason, it is imperative that you retain the services of an experienced Federal criminal attorney in Tampa to ensure your rights are protected and that you get the best defense possible. Tampa Federal criminal lawyer Jason Mayberry is in our Federal criminal courts regularly and understands the defenses available to those accused of Hobbs Act violations. Whether the defense is based on a lack of criminal intent, the fact that our client actually owns the property at issue, or a simple insufficiency of evidence defense, we will give you the best possible defense available. If you’ve been charged with a Federal crime, do not delay and contact Jason Mayberry today at 813-444-7435 or at 727-771-3847 for a free consultation.