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Joseph, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 7280
Experience:  I have 15 years experience in the legal field, currently specializing in criminal and family law
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Can my contracter be charged with extortion? Here are the

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Can my contracter be charged with extortion? Here are the details. I am planning to build an addition behind my house and had 3 contracters give me bids for the footings and concrete work. I went with the one that was $1,000 less since I considered it a good savings in an area of work that should not take extensive skill and when done it is all underground. When the contracter came to start his work he demanded just over 1/2 down which was $6,000 dollars. I paid him and he went to work for about 3 hours. he came back a couple days later and worked about another 3 hours at a very slow pace. and didn't show up for several days. When I called he would not answer and a week later he said he had some problems with his wife having a heart attack and another time she had surgery and the excuses just went on for a couple weeks. In that time a city inspecter came to my house and asked what was going on in my back yard. I told him we were doing some ground work for an eventual addition but the contracter has not been around. He called the contracter and told him he would need a permit. I had to get back to my job and the inspecter left but I called the contracter later that afternoon. The contracter told me that I did not get a permit so he could not do the job. I told him that he was to get all permits as we discussed before starting the job. He would not listen and told me he would now need another $6,000 up front before he could do the job. I told him he allready had $6,000 and the rest was to be paid at completion. He said it was my responsability to obtain a permit so now he would need additional money. Even though he was to get the permit, I decided to draw up the plan that evening and take it to the city for approval. It was approved so I called the contracter and told him that I have the permit and that he needed to get over to my house and finish.

In my opinion, it is unlikely that the contractor would be arrested and charged with extortion. As I see it, there are a couple of problems with such a prosecution.


First, extortion requires an intent to obtain money or services from another person through coercion. Here, the contractor could easily state that the job became more expensive for whatever reason. Assuming this to be accurate, it would be extremely difficult to prove otherwise.


Another problem is that law enforcement would likely consider this civil, not criminal, and not make an arrest. One could easily argue that this clearly could be handled in civil court as there is a contract between you and the contractor and he appears to be in breach of that contract. For these reasons, I suspect that law enforcement would be unwilling to consider this to be criminal in nature and would not consider it to be extortion.


Please let me know if anything requires clarification.
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