Coercion occurs when you restrict someone’s freedom to act, or not to act, through threats. It is very closely related to the common understanding of extortion.
Frequently connected to emotional break-ups or divorces, coercion can also happen during the course of a violent crime such as robbery. An example of coercion would be if a distraught husband restrains his wife from leaving home by threatening that he will report her to the police for some crime she may have committed.
If the police question you for coercing another person, you need to immediately retain an experienced defense attorney who will listen to your side of what happened.
What is Coercion in Pennsylvania?
A person can be charged with criminal coercion if he or she intends to unlawfully restrict someone else’s freedom by threatening to do any of the following:
- commit a criminal offense
- accuse anyone of a criminal offense
- expose a secret that would subject a person to contempt, ridicule, or hatred; or
- take or withhold action as an official
In Pennsylvania, coercion is usually a misdemeanor of the second degree and you can be sent to prison for two years. If the threat is to commit a felony or the intent of the defendant is felonious, then the criminal coercion is charged as a misdemeanor of the first degree. That has a penalty of up to five years in prison.
If you are convicted of coercion you will have a permanent criminal record that can negatively impact your ability to get a job, join the military, be eligible for certain types of financial aid, or pass background checks.
Steps To Take If You Have Been Charged With Coercion – Call a Pittsburgh Coercion Lawyer
If you have been charged with coercion, your first step should be to immediately hire a lawyer. You may be jailed overnight or for several days before your bond is set. While you are in jail, do not talk about the incidents that occurred with anyone other than your attorney. Don’t talk to the police or prosecutors unless your attorney is with you. Do not consider any offers the police or prosecutors may make without talking to your attorney first. Your lawyer will have your best interests in mind and can help you make the decisions that are right for you under your specific circumstances. Do not have any contact at all with the alleged victim. If you phone or text them or otherwise communicate with them, what you say can be taken out of context and used against you at a trial.
When you meet with your lawyer, tell them everything that happened both before and during your arrest. If the alleged victim’s accusations are the only evidence against you, your position is stronger than it would be if there were additional evidence. Your attorney will analyze their claims for contradictions or obvious falsehoods.