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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27429
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Am I being extorted?

Customer Question

Am I being extorted?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.

My name is ***** ***** I am an experienced criminal lawyer.

Can you give some details to place your question in context?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I run a truck driving school. Part of what I offer students is the use of my trucks for testing at the department of motor vehicles. In California, DMV testing appointments are very backed up, and depending how many students I have, the average wait time for a retest can be up to 4-5 weeks.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the reply.

Here's the California statute for extortion.
As you can see, what you've said doesn't make out the elements of the crime.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

I'm sorry, I meant to finish my statement and I accidentally jump for to reply.

Continuing from what I said above, I have a student that tested initially and failed. I was able to have the student retest 2 times since then within a span of about 2 weeks. But because today I was not able to get her to retest, her husband told me verbally over the phone that if I did not put her first on my test list tomorrow, that he would be filing a racial discrimination lawsuit.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.

If he is threatening to file a meritless suit to gain an edge that he's not entitled to, that would potentially make out extortion.

Customer: replied 2 years ago.

What would be a possible course of action to protect against this?

The suit would be meritless since we have been sensitive to their rush to retest and have been able to test her 3 times in the same time span that others have tested once.

And how is this proved if he said this verbally over the phone? Are my only options to either comply with the threat or not? And then wait and see?

I called the police department to see if I could file a police report and they didn't seem to take it seriously although they said they would document that I called.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
Right now, this is your word against what will be his, and so the police are very unlikely to round him up and make an arrest. But you have called the police, and I hope you've gotten the name of the person you spoke to about this and that they did document that you called. If you didn't, you may want to go over and report this in person so that you can see that they are completing the paperwork.

The customer may simply be angry, and if you follow your normal procedure when you make up your list, he may do absolutely nothing. If he does sue you, you have the fact that you made an outcry to the authorities which will help you to defend the charges and which could provide grounds to countersue.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Under normal procedure this student would not be testing tomorrow, but because of the threat and unfamiliarity of the situation, I felt forced to oblige. He said if his wife is not on the list tomorrow he would proceed with a suit. I have dealt with a small claims suit before and I understand that but my concern is always how costly it would be to defend a case like this even though I know I have done nothing wrong.

If I bite the bullet and just allow the student to test tomorrow, best case scenario is they pass and the situation is now out of my hair. But my concern is that they don't pass and I am again stuck in this predicament again. I don't want to anger them more but I don't want this to drag on.

Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 2 years ago.
You have given this student three separate opportunities to pass. They would have a hard time proving discrimination against you, even if he did go forward and sue, which is debatable. The problem with giving in to unreasonable demands is that once you do it, you give someone unreasonable the power to control you and to keep on doing it.

I can't guarantee that this man won't sue if his wife can't have another immediate retest. But with the fact that you've provided two restests already, that you have a procedure in place that you always follow and have done nothing differently with this customer, and the fact that you have reported threats to the police, they would have difficulty proving discrimination even if they did sue