Criminal Defense Attorneys Fighting Blackmail Charges throughout Texas
If you have been charged with blackmail by state or federal prosecutors in Texas, you need to be very careful about what you say and do. Blackmail can be charged as a felony at both the state and federal level, with sentencing that includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and decades in prison. Even if you are only being charged with a misdemeanor, a misdemeanor blackmail conviction in state or federal court can have a lifetime of consequences due in no small part to the fact that employers and landlords have the right to ask about past criminal convictions (and even past criminal charges) when screening potential employees and tenants.
What to Do if You are Facing State or Federal Blackmail Charges in Texas
So, you know you need to take your situation seriously, but what exactly does that mean? Here are seven tips from the proven criminal defense attorneys and former federal prosecutors at The Criminal Defense Firm for individuals facing state and federal blackmail charges in Texas:
1. Understand the Charges Against You.
At this point, it should be clear whether you are facing state or federal charge. What not may be as clear, however, is what exactly it means to be accused of blackmail. It may also not be immediately clear whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
The terms blackmail and extortion are often used interchangeably. At the federal level, there are separate blackmail and extortion statutes, with felony extortion charges covering many acts commonly referred to as blackmail. The general federal blackmail and extortion statutes state:
18 U.S.C. Section 873. Blackmail. Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
18 U.S.C. Section 876. Mailing Threatening Communications [Extortion] . . . (b) Whoever, with intent to extort from any person any money or other thing of value, so deposits, or causes to be delivered, as aforesaid, any communication containing any threat to kidnap any person or any threat to injure the person of the addressee or of another, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than twenty years, or both.
In Texas, blackmail, extortion, embezzlement, and other related crimes have all been consolidated under the crime of theft. If you are facing theft charges in Texas state court, it is critical to understand both (i) the nature of the alleged offense, and (ii) whether you are being charged with a misdemeanor or felony. Our attorneys can quickly interpret your charging documents during your free case assessment; and, if necessary, we can make contact with the prosecutor’s office to determine the scope of your case.
2. Understand the Agency(ies) Involved in Your Case.
In federal blackmail cases in particular, it is important to quickly identify the agency (or agencies) involved in your investigation. The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and various other agencies all perform investigative and law enforcement functions for the federal government, and each has its own unique policies, procedures, and tendencies. Knowing the agency (or agencies) involved will begin to narrow the focus of your defense and help identify the specific defenses and negotiation strategies that are available.
3. Avoid Discussing Your Case with Anyone.
Whether you are facing state or federal charges, you should not be discussing your case with anyone other than your attorneys. This includes discussing the case in person, over the phone, in text messages, and online. While a wiretap is unlikely, it is a possibility; and, in any case, anything you say or write at this point could very well be used against you.
4. Familiarize Yourself with the Steps Involved in State or Federal Prosecution.
In both state and federal cases, understanding the steps involved can make the process go more smoothly. Make sure you know the deadlines that apply, and be prepared to assess your options and preserve your defenses every step of the way. You can read our summary of the steps involved in a federal criminal case to learn more, and we will be happy to discuss the particulars of your case during your free case assessment.
5. Write Down Everything You Remember.
In order to obtain a conviction, the government’s attorneys must prove each element of your case beyond a reasonable doubt, and one of the best ways to cast doubt on the prosecutor’s case is to challenge their version of the events. So, write down everything you can think of that might be relevant to your case, and be prepared to discuss the details during your free case assessment. Try to remember as many details as possible about your arrest as well, since errors during the arrest process can provide additional defenses.
6. Know the Statute of Limitations for Blackmail.
While state criminal cases tend to move quickly, federal investigations can take time. In fact, many major prosecutions are years in the making. Under 18 U.S.C. Section 3282, in most cases, federal prosecutors must bring blackmail charges within five years of the date of the offense. Identifying exactly when a blackmail offense occurred can be challenging, and in some cases asserting the statute of limitations can provide a complete defense to criminal liability.
7. Put Experience on Your Side.
When it comes to protecting your freedom in state or federal court, there is no substitute for experience. The attorneys at The Criminal Defense Firm have decades of combined experience as criminal defense lawyers and prosecutors in both levels of government. We have represented numerous clients in serious state and federal cases throughout Texas, and we have a proven record of success protecting clients during plea negotiations and at trial.
Attorney Nick Oberheiden’s experience arguing cases against the Department of Justice, Department of Defense, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Drug Enforcement Agency, and other federal agencies, has given him a proven track record of successfully handling criminal defense cases for his clients. With the help of his team of experienced attorneys, he regularly deals with a wide variety federal offenses, including bribery, health care fraud, money laundering, among others.
Lynette S. Byrd
Attorney Lynette S. Byrd is a former federal prosecutor who now defends individual and corporate clients for The Criminal Defense Firm Attorney Byrd’s several years of experience prosecuting white-collar offenses as the Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas gives her a unique perspective in handling criminal defense cases for our firm’s clients.
Schedule Your Free Case Assessment Now
If you have been arrested and charged with blackmail in Texas, we urge you to contact us for your free case assessment. We can help you understand your situation, avoid common mistakes, and develop a comprehensive defense strategy designed to secure the best possible outcome in your case. To speak with our team of experienced criminal defense lawyers in confidence, call 214-251-4238 or send us your contact information online now.
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is a national litigation and trial criminal defense attorney who practices exclusively in the area of federal law.