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ScottyMacEsq
ScottyMacEsq, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 15760
Experience:  Licensed Texas General Practice Attorney
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Am I speaking with an attorney? I am being extorted and

Customer Question

hello, am I speaking with an attorney? I am being extorted and threatened with a sex tape I did not consent to be shared
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for using JustAnswer.

I'm sorry to hear about your situation. Yes, I am an attorney. Can you tell me what your specific question is? In what way are you being extorted?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He is threatening to release the video to friends, family, etc. I did not consent for it to be shared. He also is trying to get me to see him again.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My question is which action to take
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

I see. Is the person seeking money from you to keep him from showing it to friends, family? I assume that you consented to the tape being made, correct?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I consented, but not for it to be shared. He is not asking for money, but for me to meet with him and keeps sending threats. Additionally he has implied he will harm my family.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

How did he imply that he would harm your family?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
He has said they are going to "get it" and he will send them all the video
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

I wish I could contact you with a phone call, but that's considered legal advice and counsel at that point, rather than answering a legal question, and as such is prohibited by the terms of service of this site. That option is there because there are many different categories on this site, but only one (legal) has such a restriction on forming an attorney-client relationship. But we can continue the question here.

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

Was there any specificity as to what he meant by "get it"?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No, nothing specific with "get it". Just the threat to post it online publicly and share with "the world" and my family and friends. He also will not stop contacting and keeps switching numbers.
Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

I see. Again, I'm sorry to hear about your situation. First of all, there's nothing in the law that says that he cannot distribute a video that you both made together and that you knew about and consented to. It's unethical and immoral, I agree, but not illegal (per se). There are a number of issues here, some that may work and others that simply will not.

First of all, the criminal: as far as extortion is concerned, that would be difficult to show. There are two elements to the criminal offense of extortion in Washington, D.C. First, the person needs to obtain or seek to obtain the property of another with the person’s consent. Second, the other person’s consent needs to have been coerced through “actual or threatened violence or by wrongful threat of economic injury. The "property" that they seek is generally the "payoff" for the extortion. In other words, pay me money / give me your car, otherwise I'll release this. As this person is not seeking to obtain property from you, it would be very difficult, if not impossible to establish extortion.

It could be seen as criminal harassment, which simply requires an intent to harass or annoy and actions taken towards that effect. So you can certainly threaten filing charges against him for that (and you can also threaten filing charges against him for extortion, but that would be a bluff).

As far as the physical threats are concerned, his statements alone would not be actionable (not without some context or qualification as to what he meant). He could simply say that "get it" means get the tape or something like that (something innocent). And as the threats were not communicated to the potential victims, it would be difficult to prove any elements of any crime.

Then there are potential civil remedies. Note that these are remedies. They assume that there has been a disclosure of the video. It wouldn't be a "false light" claim, because to have that there would need to be an actual statement made about you that was false. There could be a case for publication of private facts. In D.C., the elements of a publications of private facts claim are: (1) publication; (2) of private facts; (3) in which the public has no legitimate concern; and (4) the publication of which would cause suffering, shame, or humiliation to a person of ordinary sensibilities.

D.C. law does not impose liability for publication of facts that are "matters of legitimate public or general interest." Dresbach v. Doubleday & Co., 518 F. Supp. 1285, 1287 (D.D.C. 1981). This "newsworthiness" exception is not limited to dissemination of news about current events or public affairs, but also protects "information concerning interesting phases of human activity and embraces all issues about which information is needed or appropriate so that individuals may cope with the exigencies of their period." Vassiliades v. Garfinckel's,492 A.2d 580, 589 (D.C. 1985).

Individuals retain a zone of privacy relating to their private lives, however, and the defense will not protect the disclosure of facts unless there is a "logical nexus" (i.e., reasonable relationship) between the disclosed facts and the topic of public interest. As a general rule, private facts about public officials and celebrities are more likely of legitimate public interest than private facts about ordinary people who get involuntarily caught up in newsworthy events.

So ultimately the best thing would be to threaten him with criminal charges (harassment, which could work, and extortion, which would be a bluff), and then civil damages should he actually release that information.

Hope that clears things up a bit. If you have any other questions, please let me know. If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it positively (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

Did you have any other questions before you rate this answer?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

Are you there? Please note that I am still here, awaiting your response or rating... (please note that rating closes this question out, so if there's nothing else, please rate it so that I can assist other customers that are waiting for answers to their questions)

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

Should I continue to await your response, or may I assist the other customers that are waiting?

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

My apologies, but I must assist the other customers that are waiting.

If there's nothing else, please rate this answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for the time and effort that I spent on this answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better) AND press the "submit" button, if applicable. If you feel that I have gone above and beyond in this answer (my average answer is about 10 minutes) bonuses are greatly appreciated. Thank you, ***** ***** luck to you!

▼ RATING REQUIRED! ▼ Please don't forget to Rate my service as OK Service or higher. It's only then I am credited.

Expert:  ScottyMacEsq replied 1 year ago.

I see that you have not responded in some time. Please note that this question is still open until you rate it. I believe that I have answered your question, but if you have any other questions, please let me know.If not, and you have not yet, please rate my answer. Please note that I don't get any credit for my answer unless and until you rate it a 3, 4, 5 (good or better). Thank you, ***** ***** good luck to you!